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Title: What Katy Did Next
Author: Coolidge, Susan, 1835-1905
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 "What Katy Did Next" ***

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[Illustration: She paid a visit to the little garden.
FRONTISPIECE.]


WHAT KATY DID NEXT

BY

SUSAN COOLIDGE



This Story is Dedicated

TO

THE MANY LITTLE GIRLS

(SOME OF THEM GROWN TO BE GREAT GIRLS NOW),

_Who, during the last twelve years, have begged that something
more might be told them about KATY CARR, and what she did after
leaving school._



CONTENTS


CHAPTER

I. AN UNEXPECTED GUEST

II. AN INVITATION

III. ROSE AND ROSEBUD

IV. ON THE "SPARTACUS"

V. STORY-BOOK ENGLAND

VI. ACROSS THE CHANNEL

VII. THE PENSION SUISSE

VIII. ON THE TRACK OF ULYSSES

IX. A ROMAN HOLIDAY

X. CLEAR SHINING AFTER RAIN

XI. NEXT



ILLUSTRATIONS


SHE PAID A VISIT TO THE LITTLE GARDEN

"SHE WAS HAVING THE MEASLES ON THE
BACK SHELF OF THE CLOSET, YOU KNOW"

KATY WAS FEEDING GRETCHEN OUT OF A BIG
BOWL FULL OF BREAD AND MILK

AMY WAS LEFT IN PEACE WITH HER FAWN



CHAPTER I.

AN UNEXPECTED GUEST.


The September sun was glinting cheerfully into a pretty bedroom
furnished with blue. It danced on the glossy hair and bright eyes of two
girls, who sat together hemming ruffles for a white muslin dress. The
half-finished skirt of the dress lay on the bed; and as each crisp
ruffle was completed, the girls added it to the snowy heap, which looked
like a drift of transparent clouds or a pile of foamy white-of-egg
beaten stiff enough to stand alone.

These girls were Clover and Elsie Carr, and it was Clover's first
evening dress for which they were hemming ruffles. It was nearly two
years since a certain visit made by Johnnie to Inches Mills, of which
some of you have read in "Nine Little Goslings;" and more than three
since Clover and Katy had returned home from the boarding-school at
Hillsover.

Clover was now eighteen. She was a very small Clover still, but it would
have been hard to find anywhere a prettier little maiden than she had
grown to be. Her skin was so exquisitely fair that her arms and wrists
and shoulders, which were round and dimpled like a baby's, seemed cut
out of daisies or white rose leaves. Her thick, brown hair waved and
coiled gracefully about her head. Her smile was peculiarly sweet; and
the eyes, always Clover's chief beauty, had still that pathetic look
which made them irresistible to tender-hearted people.

Elsie, who adored Clover, considered her as beautiful as girls in
books, and was proud to be permitted to hem ruffles for the dress in
which she was to burst upon the world. Though, as for that, not much
"bursting" was possible in Burnet, where tea-parties of a middle-aged
description, and now and then a mild little dance, represented "gayety"
and "society." Girls "came out" very much, as the sun comes out in the
morning,--by slow degrees and gradual approaches, with no particular
one moment which could be fixed upon as having been the crisis of the
joyful event.

"There," said Elsie, adding another ruffle to the pile on the
bed,--"there's the fifth done. It's going to be ever so pretty, I think.
I'm glad you had it all white; it's a great deal nicer."

"Cecy wanted me to have a blue bodice and sash," said Clover, "but I
wouldn't. Then she tried to persuade me to get a long spray of pink
roses for the skirt."

"I'm so glad you didn't! Cecy was always crazy about pink roses. I only
wonder she didn't wear them when she was married!"

Yes; the excellent Cecy, who at thirteen had announced her intention to
devote her whole life to teaching Sunday School, visiting the poor, and
setting a good example to her more worldly contemporaries, had actually
forgotten these fine resolutions, and before she was twenty had become
the wife of Sylvester Slack, a young lawyer in a neighboring town!
Cecy's wedding and wedding-clothes, and Cecy's house-furnishing had been
the great excitement of the preceding year in Burnet; and a fresh
excitement had come since in the shape of Cecy's baby, now about two
months old, and named "Katherine Clover," after her two friends. This
made it natural that Cecy and her affairs should still be of interest in
the Carr household; and Johnnie, at the time we write of, was making her
a week's visit.

"She _was_ rather wedded to them," went on Clover, pursuing the subject
of the pink roses. "She was almost vexed when I wouldn't buy the spray.
But it cost lots, and I didn't want it in the least, so I stood firm.
Besides, I always said that my first party dress should be plain white.
Girls in novels always wear white to their first balls; and fresh
flowers are a great deal prettier, any way, than artificial. Katy says
she'll give me some violets to wear."

"Oh, will she? That will be lovely!" cried the adoring Elsie. "Violets
look just like you, somehow. Oh, Clover, what sort of a dress do you
think I shall have when I grow up and go to parties and things? Won't it
be awfully interesting when you and I go out to choose it?"

Just then the noise of some one running upstairs quickly made the
sisters look up from their work. Footsteps are very significant at
times, and these footsteps suggested haste and excitement.

Another moment, the door opened, and Katy dashed in, calling out,
"Papa!--Elsie, Clover, where's papa?"

"He went over the river to see that son of Mr. White's who broke his
leg. Why, what's the matter?" asked Clover.

"Is somebody hurt?" inquired Elsie, startled at Katy's agitated looks.

"No, not hurt, but poor Mrs. Ashe is in such trouble."

Mrs. Ashe, it should be explained, was a widow who had come to Burnet
some months previously, and had taken a pleasant house not far from the
Carrs'. She was a pretty, lady-like woman, with a particularly graceful,
appealing manner, and very fond of her one child, a little girl. Katy
and papa both took a fancy to her at once; and the families had grown
neighborly and intimate in a short time, as people occasionally do when
circumstances are favorable.

"I'll tell you all about it in a minute," went on Katy. "But first I
must find Alexander, and send him off to meet papa and beg him to hurry
home." She went to the head of the stairs as she spoke, and called
"Debby! Debby!" Debby answered. Katy gave her direction, and then came
back again to the room where the other two were sitting.

"Now," she said, speaking more collectedly, "I must explain as fast as I
can, for I have got to go back. You know that Mrs. Ashe's little nephew
is here for a visit, don't you?"

"Yes, he came on Saturday."

"Well, he was ailing all day yesterday, and to-day he is worse, and she
is afraid it is scarlet-fever. Luckily, Amy was spending the day with
the Uphams yesterday, so she scarcely saw the boy at all; and as soon
as her mother became alarmed, she sent her out into the garden to play,
and hasn't let her come indoors since, so she can't have been exposed
to any particular danger yet. I went by the house on my way down
street, and there sat the poor little thing all alone in the arbor,
with her dolly in her lap, looking so disconsolate. I spoke to her over
the fence, and Mrs. Ashe heard my voice, and opened the upstairs window
and called to me. She said Amy had never had the fever, and that the
very idea of her having it frightened her to death. She is such a
delicate child, you know."

"Oh, poor Mrs. Ashe!" cried Clover; "I am so sorry for her! Well, Katy,
what did you do?"

"I hope I didn't do wrong, but I offered to bring Amy here. Papa won't
object, I am almost sure."

"Why, of course he won't. Well?"

"I am going back now to fetch Amy. Mrs. Ashe is to let Ellen, who hasn't
been in the room with the little boy, pack a bagful of clothes and put
it out on the steps, and I shall send Alexander for it by and by. You
can't think how troubled poor Mrs. Ashe was. She couldn't help crying
when she said that Amy was all she had left in the world. And I nearly
cried too, I was so sorry for her. She was so relieved when I said that
we would take Amy. You know she has a great deal of confidence in papa."

"Yes, and in you too. Where will you put Amy to sleep, Katy?"

"What do you think would be best? In Dorry's room?"

"I think she'd better come in here with you, and I'll go into Dorry's
room. She is used to sleeping with her mother, you know, and she would
be lonely if she were left to herself."

"Perhaps that will be better, only it is a great bother for you,
Clovy dear."

"I don't mind," responded Clover, cheerfully. "I rather like to change
about and try a new room once in a while. It's as good as going on a
journey--almost."

She pushed aside the half-finished dress as she spoke, opened a drawer,
took out its contents, and began to carry them across the entry to
Dorry's room, doing everything with the orderly deliberation that was
characteristic of whatever Clover did. Her preparations were almost
complete before Katy returned, bringing with her little Amy Ashe.

Amy was a tall child of eight, with a frank, happy face, and long light
hair hanging down her back. She looked like the pictures of "Alice in
Wonderland;" but just at that moment it was a very woful little Alice
indeed that she resembled, for her cheeks were stained with tears and
her eyes swollen with recent crying.

"Why, what is the matter?" cried kind little Clover, taking Amy in her
arms, and giving her a great hug. "Aren't you glad that you are coming
to make us a visit? We are."

"Mamma didn't kiss me for good-by," sobbed the little girl. "She didn't
come downstairs at all. She just put her head out of the window and
said, 'Good-by; Amy, be very good, and don't make Miss Carr any
trouble,' and then she went away. I never went anywhere before without
kissing mamma for good-by."

"Mamma was afraid to kiss you for fear she might give you the fever,"
explained Katy, taking her turn as a comforter. "It wasn't because she
forgot. She felt worse about it than you did, I imagine. You know the
thing she cares most for is that you shall not be ill as your cousin
Walter is. She would rather do anything than have that happen. As soon
as he gets well she will kiss you dozens of times, see if she doesn't.
Meanwhile, she says in this note that you must write her a little letter
every day, and she will hang a basket by a string out of the window, and
you and I will go and drop the letters into the basket, and stand by the
gate and see her pull it up. That will be funny, won't it? We will play
that you are my little girl, and that you have a real mamma and a
make-believe mamma."

"Shall I sleep with you?" demanded Amy,

"Yes, in that bed over there."

"It's a pretty bed," pronounced Amy after examining it gravely for a
moment. "Will you tell me a story every morning?"

[Illustration: "She was having the measles on the back shelf of the
closet, you know."]

"If you don't wake me up too early. My stories are always sleepy
till seven o'clock. Let us see what Ellen has packed in that bag,
and then I'll give you some drawers of your own, and we will put the
things away."

The bag was full of neat little frocks and underclothes stuffed hastily
in all together. Katy took them out, smoothing the folds, and crimping
the tumbled ruffles with her fingers. As she lifted the last skirt, Amy,
with a cry of joy, pounced on something that lay beneath it.

"It is Maria Matilda," she said, "I'm glad of that. I thought Ellen
would forget her, and the poor child wouldn't know what to do with me
and her little sister not coming to see her for so long. She was having
the measles on the back shelf of the closet, you know, and nobody would
have heard her if she had cried ever so loud."

"What a pretty face she has!" said Katy, taking the doll out of
Amy's hands.

"Yes, but not so pretty as Mabel. Miss Upham says that Mabel is the
prettiest child she ever saw. Look, Miss Clover," lifting the other doll
from the table where she had laid it; "hasn't she got _sweet_ eyes?
She's older than Maria Matilda, and she knows a great deal more. She's
begun on French verbs!"

"Not really! Which ones?"

"Oh, only 'J'aime, tu aimes, il aime,' you know,--the same that our
class is learning at school. She hasn't tried any but that. Sometimes
she says it quite nicely, but sometimes she's very stupid, and I have to
scold her." Amy had quite recovered her spirits by this time.

"Are these the only dolls you have?"

"Oh, please don't call them _that!_" urged Amy. "It hurts their feelings
dreadfully. I never let them know that they are dolls. They think that
they are real children, only sometimes when they are very bad I use the
word for a punishment. I've got several other children. There's old
Ragazza. My uncle named her, and she's made of rag, but she has such bad
rheumatism that I don't play with her any longer; I just give her
medicine. Then there's Effie Deans, she's only got one leg; and Mopsa
the Fairy, she's a tiny one made out of china; and Peg of
Linkinvaddy,--but she don't count, for she's all come to pieces."

"What very queer names your children have!" said Elsie, who had come in
during the enumeration.

"Yes; Uncle Ned named them. He's a very funny uncle, but he's nice. He's
always so much interested in my children."

"There's papa now!" cried Katy; and she ran downstairs to meet him.

"Did I do right?" she asked anxiously after she had told her story.

"Yes, my dear, perfectly right," replied Dr. Carr. "I only hope Amy was
taken away in time. I will go round at once to see Mrs. Ashe and the
boy; and, Katy, keep away from me when I come back, and keep the others
away, till I have changed my coat."

It is odd how soon and how easily human beings accustom themselves to a
new condition of things. When sudden illness comes, or sudden sorrow, or
a house is burned up, or blown down by a tornado, there are a few hours
or days of confusion and bewilderment, and then people gather up their
wits and their courage and set to work to repair damages. They clear
away ruins, plant, rebuild, very much as ants whose hill has been
trodden upon, after running wildly about for a little while, begin all
together to reconstruct the tiny cone of sand which is so important in
their eyes. In a very short time the changes which at first seem so sad
and strange become accustomed and matter-of-course things which no
longer surprise us.

It seemed to the Carrs after a few days as if they had always had Amy in
the house with them. Papa's daily visit to the sick-room, their
avoidance of him till after he had "changed his coat," Amy's lessons and
games of play, her dressing and undressing, the walks with the
make-believe mamma, the dropping of notes into the little basket, seemed
part of a system of things which had been going on for a long, long
time, and which everybody would miss should they suddenly stop.

But they by no means suddenly stopped. Little Walter Ashe's case proved
to be rather a severe one; and after he had begun to mend, he caught
cold somehow and was taken worse again. There were some serious
symptoms, and for a few days Dr. Carr did not feel sure how things would
turn. He did not speak of his anxiety at home, but kept silence and a
cheerful face, as doctors know how to do. Only Katy, who was more
intimate with her father than the rest, guessed that things were going
gravely at the other house, and she was too well trained to ask
questions. The threatening symptoms passed off, however, and little
Walter slowly got better; but it was a long convalescence, and Mrs. Ashe
grew thin and pale before he began to look rosy. There was no one on
whom she could devolve the charge of the child. His mother was dead; his
father, an overworked business man, had barely time to run up once a
week to see about him; there was no one at his home but a housekeeper,
in whom Mrs. Ashe had not full confidence. So the good aunt denied
herself the sight of her own child, and devoted her strength and time to
Walter; and nearly two months passed, and still little Amy remained at
Dr. Carr's.

She was entirely happy there. She had grown very fond of Katy, and was
perfectly at home with the others. Phil and Johnnie, who had returned
from her visit to Cecy, were by no means too old or too proud to be
play-fellows to a child of eight; and with all the older members of the
family Amy was a chosen pet. Debby baked turnovers, and twisted cinnamon
cakes into all sorts of fantastic shapes to please her; Alexander would
let her drive if she happened to sit on the front seat of the carryall;
Dr. Carr was seldom so tired that he could not tell her a story,--and
nobody told such nice stories as Dr. Carr, Amy thought; Elsie invented
all manner of charming games for the hour before bedtime; Clover made
wonderful capes and bonnets for Mabel and Maria Matilda; and Katy--Katy
did all sorts of things.

Katy had a peculiar gift with children which is not easy to define. Some
people possess it, and some do not; it cannot be learned, it comes by
nature. She was bright and firm and equable all at once. She both amused
and influenced them. There was something about her which excited the
childish imagination, and always they felt her sympathy. Amy was a
tractable child, and intelligent beyond her age, but she was never quite
so good with any one as with Katy. She followed her about like a little
lover; she lavished upon her certain special words and caresses which
she gave to no one else; and would kneel on her lap, patting Katy's
shoulders with her soft hand, and cooing up into her face like a happy
dove, for a half-hour together. Katy laughed at these demonstrations,
but they pleased her very much. She loved to be loved, as all
affectionate people do, but most of all to be loved by a child.

At last, the long convalescence ended, Walter was carried away to his
father, with every possible precaution against fatigue and exposure, and
an army of workpeople was turned into Mrs. Ashe's house. Plaster was
scraped and painted, wall-papers torn down, mattresses made over, and
clothing burned. At last Dr. Carr pronounced the premises in a sanitary
condition, and Mrs. Ashe sent for her little girl to come home again.

Amy was overjoyed at the prospect of seeing her mother; but at the last
moment she clung to Katy and cried as if her heart would break.

"I want you too," she said. "Oh, if Dr. Carr would only let you come and
live with me and mamma, I should be so happy! I shall be so lone-ly!"

"Nonsense!" cried Clover. "Lonely with mamma, and those poor children of
yours who have been wondering all these weeks what has become of you!
They'll want a great deal of attention at first, I am sure; medicine and
new clothes and whippings,--all manner of things. You remember I
promised to make a dress for Effie Deans out of that blue and brown
plaid like Johnnie's balmoral. I mean to begin it to-morrow."

"Oh, will you?"--forgetting her grief--"that will be lovely. The skirt
needn't be _very_ full, you know. Effie doesn't walk much, because of
only having one leg. She will be _so_ pleased, for she hasn't had a new
dress I don't know when."

Consoled by the prospect of Effie's satisfaction, Amy departed quite
cheerfully, and Mrs. Ashe was spared the pain of seeing her only child
in tears on the first evening of their reunion. But Amy talked so
constantly of Katy, and seemed to love her so much, that it put a plan
into her mother's head which led to important results, as the next
chapter will show.



CHAPTER II.

AN INVITATION.


It is a curious fact, and makes life very interesting, that, generally
speaking, none of us have any expectation that things are going to
happen till the very moment when they do happen. We wake up some morning
with no idea that a great happiness is at hand, and before night it has
come, and all the world is changed for us; or we wake bright and
cheerful, with never a guess that clouds of sorrow are lowering in our
sky, to put all the sunshine out for a while, and before noon all is
dark. Nothing whispers of either the joy or the grief. No instinct bids
us to delay or to hasten the opening of the letter or telegram, or the
lifting of the latch of the door at which stands the messenger of good
or ill. And because it may be, and often is, happy tidings that come,
and joyful things which happen, each fresh day as it dawns upon us is
like an unread story, full of possible interest and adventure, to be
made ours as soon as we have cut the pages and begun to read.

Nothing whispered to Katy Carr, as she sat at the window mending a long
rent in Johnnie's school coat, and saw Mrs. Ashe come in at the side
gate and ring the office bell, that the visit had any special
significance for her. Mrs. Ashe often did come to the office to consult
Dr. Carr. Amy might not be quite well, Katy thought, or there might be a
letter with something about Walter in it, or perhaps matters had gone
wrong at the house, where paperers and painters were still at work. So
she went calmly on with her darning, drawing the "ravelling," with which
her needle was threaded, carefully in and out, and taking nice even
stitches without one prophetic thrill or tremor; while, if only she
could have looked through the two walls and two doors which separated
the room in which she sat from the office, and have heard what Mrs. Ashe
was saying, the school coat would have been thrown to the winds, and for
all her tall stature and propriety, she would have been skipping with
delight and astonishment. For Mrs. Ashe was asking papa to let her do
the very thing of all others that she most longed to do; she was asking
him to let Katy go with her to Europe!

"I am not very well," she told the Doctor. "I got tired and run down
while Walter was ill, and I don't seem to throw it off as I hoped I
should. I feel as if a change would do me good. Don't you think so
yourself?"

"Yes, I do," Dr. Carr admitted.

"This idea of Europe is not altogether a new one," continued Mrs. Ashe.
"I have always meant to go some time, and have put it off, partly
because I dreaded going alone, and didn't know anybody whom I exactly
wanted to take with me. But if you will let me have Katy, Dr. Carr, it
will settle all my difficulties. Amy loves her dearly, and so do I; she
is just the companion I need; if I have her with me, I sha'n't be afraid
of anything. I do hope you will consent."

"How long do you mean to be away?" asked Dr. Carr, divided between
pleasure at these compliments to Katy and dismay at the idea of
losing her.

"About a year, I think. My plans are rather vague as yet; but my idea
was to spend a few weeks in Scotland and England first,--I have some
cousins in London who will be good to us; and an old friend of mine
married a gentleman who lives on the Isle of Wight; perhaps we might go
there. Then we could cross over to France and visit Paris and a few
other places; and before it gets cold go down to Nice, and from there to
Italy. Katy would like to see Italy. Don't you think so?"

"I dare say she would," said Dr. Carr, with a smile. "She would be a
queer girl if she didn't."

"There is one reason why I thought Italy would be particularly pleasant
this winter for me and for her too," went on Mrs. Ashe; "and that is,
because my brother will be there. He is a lieutenant in the navy, you
know, and his ship, the 'Natchitoches,' is one of the Mediterranean
squadron. They will be in Naples by and by, and if we were there at the
same time we should have Ned to go about with; and he would take us to
the receptions on the frigate, and all that, which would be a nice
chance for Katy. Then toward spring I should like to go to Florence and
Venice, and visit the Italian lakes and Switzerland in the early summer.
But all this depends on your letting Katy go. If you decide against it,
I shall give the whole thing up. But you won't decide against
it,"--coaxingly,--"you will be kinder than that. I will take the best
possible care of her, and do all I can to make her happy, if only you
will consent to lend her to me; and I shall consider it _such_ a favor.
And it is to cost you nothing. You understand, Doctor, she is to be my
guest all through. That is a point I want to make clear in the outset;
for she goes for my sake, and I cannot take her on any other conditions.
Now, Dr. Carr, please, please! I am sure you won't deny me, when I have
so set my heart upon having her."

Mrs. Ashe was very pretty and persuasive, but still Dr. Carr hesitated.
To send Katy for a year's pleasuring in Europe was a thing that had
never occurred to his mind as possible. The cost alone would have
prevented; for country doctors with six children are not apt to be rich
men, even in the limited and old-fashioned construction of the word
"wealth." It seemed equally impossible to let her go at Mrs. Ashe's
expense; at the same time, the chance was such a good one, and Mrs. Ashe
so much in earnest and so urgent, that it was difficult to refuse point
blank. He finally consented to take time for consideration before making
his decision.

"I will talk it over with Katy," he said. "The child ought to have a say
in the matter; and whatever we decide, you must let me thank you in her
name as well as my own for your great kindness in proposing it."

"Doctor, I'm not kind at all, and I don't want to be thanked. My desire
to take Katy with me to Europe is purely selfish. I am a lonely person,"
she went on; "I have no mother or sister, and no cousins of my own age.
My brother's profession keeps him at sea; I scarcely ever see him. I
have no one but a couple of old aunts, too feeble in health to travel
with me or to be counted on in case of any emergency. You see, I am a
real case for pity."

Mrs. Ashe spoke gayly, but her brown eyes were dim with tears as she
ended her little appeal. Dr. Carr, who was soft-hearted where women were
concerned, was touched. Perhaps his face showed it, for Mrs. Ashe added
in a more hopeful tone,--

"But I won't tease any more. I know you will not refuse me unless you
think it right and necessary; and," she continued mischievously, "I have
great faith in Katy as an ally. I am pretty sure that she will say that
she wants to go."

And indeed Katy's cry of delight when the plan was proposed to her said
that sufficiently, without need of further explanation. To go to Europe
for a year with Mrs. Ashe and Amy seemed simply too delightful to be
true. All the things she had heard about and read about--cathedrals,
pictures, Alpine peaks, famous places, famous people--came rushing into
her mind in a sort of bewildering tide as dazzling as it was
overwhelming. Dr. Carr's objections, his reluctance to part with her,
melted before the radiance of her satisfaction. He had no idea that
Katy would care so much about it. After all, it was a great
chance,--perhaps the only one of the sort that she would ever have.
Mrs. Ashe could well afford to give Katy this treat, he knew; and it
was quite true what she said, that it was a favor to her as well as to
Katy. This train of reasoning led to its natural results. Dr. Carr
began to waver in his mind.

But, the first excitement over, Katy's second thoughts were more sober
ones. How could papa manage without her for a whole year, she asked
herself. He would miss her, she well knew, and might not the charge of
the house be too much for Clover? The preserves were almost all made,
that was one comfort; but there were the winter clothes to be seen to;
Dorry needed new flannels, Elsie's dresses must be altered over for
Johnnie,--there were cucumbers to pickle, the coal to order! A host of
housewifely cares began to troop through Katy's mind, and a little
pucker came into her forehead, and a worried look across the face which
had been so bright a few minutes before. Strange to say, it was that
little pucker and the look of worry which decided Dr. Carr.

"She is only twenty-one," he reflected; "hardly out of childhood. I
don't want her to settle into an anxious, drudging state and lose her
youth with caring for us all. She shall go; though how we are to manage
without her I don't see. Little Clover will have to come to the fore,
and show what sort of stuff there is in her."

"Little Clover" came gallantly "to the fore" when the first shock of
surprise was over, and she had relieved her mind with one long private
cry over having to do without Katy for a year. Then she wiped her eyes,
and began to revel unselfishly in the idea of her sister's having so
great a treat. Anything and everything seemed possible to secure it for
her; and she made light of all Katy's many anxieties and apprehensions.

"My dear child, I know a flannel undershirt when I see one, just as well
as you do," she declared. "Tucks in Johnnie's dress, forsooth! why, of
course. Ripping out a tuck doesn't require any superhuman ingenuity!
Give me your scissors, and I'll show you at once. Quince marmalade?
Debby can make that. Hers is about as good as yours; and if it wasn't,
what should we care, as long as you are ascending Mont Blanc, and
hob-nobbing with Michael Angelo and the crowned heads of Europe? I'll
make the spiced peaches! I'll order the kindling! And if there ever
comes a time when I feel lost and can't manage without advice, I'll go
across to Mrs. Hall. Don't worry about us. We shall get on happily and
easily; in fact, I shouldn't be surprised if I developed such a turn for
housekeeping, that when you come back the family refused to change, and
you had just to sit for the rest of your life and twirl your thumbs and
watch me do it! Wouldn't that be fine?" and Clover laughed merrily. "So,
Katy darling, cast that shadow from your brow, and look as a girl ought
to look who's going to Europe. Why, if it were I who were going, I
should simply stand on my head every moment of the time!"

"Not a very convenient position for packing," said Katy, smiling.

"Yes, it is, if you just turn your trunk upside down! When I think of
all the delightful things you are going to do, I can hardly sit still. I
_love_ Mrs. Ashe for inviting you."

"So do I," said Katy, soberly. "It was the kindest thing! I can't think
why she did it."

"Well, I can," replied Clover, always ready to defend Katy even against
herself. "She did it because she wanted you, and she wanted you because
you are the dearest old thing in the world, and the nicest to have
about. You needn't say you're not, for you are! Now, Katy, don't waste
another thought on such miserable things as pickles and undershirts. We
shall get along perfectly well, I do assure you. Just fix your mind
instead on the dome of St. Peter's, or try to fancy how you'll feel the
first time you step into a gondola or see the Mediterranean. There will
be a moment! I feel a forty-horse power of housekeeping developing
within me; and what fun it will be to get your letters! We shall fetch
out the Encyclopaedia and the big Atlas and the 'History of Modern
Europe,' and read all about everything you see and all the places you
go to; and it will be as good as a lesson in geography and history and
political economy all combined, only a great deal more interesting! We
shall stick out all over with knowledge before you come back; and this
makes it a plain duty to go, if it were only for our sakes." With these
zealous promises, Katy was forced to be content. Indeed, contentment
was not difficult with such a prospect of delight before her. When once
her little anxieties had been laid aside, the idea of the coming
journey grew in pleasantness every moment. Night after night she and
papa and the children pored over maps and made out schemes for travel
and sight-seeing, every one of which was likely to be discarded as soon
as the real journey began. But they didn't know that, and it made no
real difference. Such schemes are the preliminary joys of travel, and
it doesn't signify that they come to nothing after they have served
their purpose.

Katy learned a great deal while thus talking over what she was to see
and do. She read every scrap she could lay her hand on which related to
Rome or Florence or Venice or London. The driest details had a charm for
her now that she was likely to see the real places. She went about with
scraps of paper in her pocket, on which were written such things as
these: "Forum. When built? By whom built? More than one?" "What does
_Cenacola_ mean?" "Cecilia Metella. Who was she?" "Find out about Saint
Catherine of Siena." "Who was Beatrice Cenci?" How she wished that she
had studied harder and more carefully before this wonderful chance came
to her. People always wish this when they are starting for Europe; and
they wish it more and more after they get there, and realize of what
value exact ideas and information and a fuller knowledge of the foreign
languages are to all travellers; how they add to the charm of everything
seen, and enhance the ease of everything done.

All Burnet took an interest in Katy's plans, and almost everybody had
some sort of advice or help, or some little gift to offer. Old Mrs.
Worrett, who, though fatter than ever, still retained the power of
locomotion, drove in from Conic Section in her roomy carryall with the
present of a rather obsolete copy of "Murray's Guide," in faded red
covers, which her father had used in his youth, and which she was sure
Katy would find convenient; also a bottle of Brown's Jamaica Ginger, in
case of sea-sickness. Debby's sister-in-law brought a bundle of dried
chamomile for the same purpose. Some one had told her it was the
"handiest thing in the world to take along with you on them steamboats."
Cecy sent a wonderful old-gold and scarlet contrivance to hang on the
wall of the stateroom. There were pockets for watches, and pockets for
medicines, and pockets for handkerchief and hairpins,--in short, there
were pockets for everything; besides a pincushion with "Bon Voyage" in
rows of shining pins, a bottle of eau-de-cologne, a cake of soap, and a
hammer and tacks to nail the whole up with. Mrs. Hall's gift was a warm
and very pretty woollen wrapper of dark blue flannel, with a pair of
soft knitted slippers to match. Old Mr. Worrett sent a note of advice,
recommending Katy to take a quinine pill every day that she was away,
never to stay out late, because the dews "over there" were said to be
unwholesome, and on no account to drink a drop of water which had not
been boiled.

From Cousin Helen came a delightful travelling-bag, light and strong at
once, and fitted up with all manner of nice little conveniences. Miss
Inches sent a "History of Europe" in five fat volumes, which was so
heavy that it had to be left at home. In fact, a good many of Katy's
presents had to be left at home, including a bronze paper-weight in the
shape of a griffin, a large pair of brass screw candlesticks, and an
ormolu inkstand with a pen-rest attached, which weighed at least a pound
and a half. These Katy laid aside to enjoy after her return. Mrs. Ashe
and Cousin Helen had both warned her of the inconvenient consequences of
weight in baggage; and by their advice she had limited herself to a
single trunk of moderate size, besides a little flat valise for use in
her stateroom.

Clover's gift was a set of blank books for notes, journals, etc. In one
of these, Katy made out a list of "Things I must see," "Things I must
do," "Things I would like to see," "Things I would like to do." Another
she devoted to various good shopping addresses which had been given her;
for though she did not expect to do any shopping herself, she thought
Mrs. Ashe might find them useful. Katy's ideas were still so simple and
unworldly, and her experience of life so small, that it had not occurred
to her how very tantalizing it might be to stand in front of shop
windows full of delightful things and not be able to buy any of them.
She was accordingly overpowered with surprise, gratitude, and the sense
of sudden wealth, when about a week before the start her father gave her
three little thin strips of paper, which he told her were circular
notes, and worth a hundred dollars apiece. He also gave her five English
sovereigns.

"Those are for immediate use," he said. "Put the notes away carefully,
and don't lose them. You had better have them cashed one at a time as
you require them. Mrs. Ashe will explain how. You will need a gown or so
before you come back, and you'll want to buy some photographs and so on,
and there will be fees--"

"But, papa," protested Katy, opening wide her candid eyes, "I didn't
expect you to give me any money, and I'm afraid you are giving me too
much. Do you think you can afford it? Really and truly, I don't want to
buy things. I shall see everything, you know, and that's enough."

Her father only laughed.

"You'll be wiser and greedier before the year is out, my dear," he
replied. "Three hundred dollars won't go far, as you'll find. But it's
all I can spare, and I trust you to keep within it, and not come home
with any long bills for me to pay."

"Papa! I should think not!" cried Katy, with unsophisticated horror.

One very interesting thing was to happen before they sailed, the thought
of which helped both Katy and Clover through the last hard days, when
the preparations were nearly complete, and the family had leisure to
feel dull and out of spirits. Katy was to make Rose Red a visit.

Rose had by no means been idle during the three years and a half which
had elapsed since they all parted at Hillsover, and during which the
girls had not seen her. In fact, she had made more out of the time than
any of the rest of them, for she had been engaged for eighteen months,
had been married, and was now keeping house near Boston with a little
Rose of her own, who, she wrote to Clover, was a perfect angel, and more
delicious than words could say! Mrs. Ashe had taken passage in the
"Spartacus," sailing from Boston; and it was arranged that Katy should
spend the last two days before sailing, with Rose, while Mrs. Ashe and
Amy visited an old aunt in Hingham. To see Rose in her own home, and
Rose's husband, and Rose's baby, was only next in interest to seeing
Europe. None of the changes in her lot seemed to have changed her
particularly, to judge by the letter she sent in reply to Katy's
announcing her plans, which letter ran as follows:--

"LONGWOOD, September 20.

"My dearest child,--Your note made me dance with delight. I stood on my
head waving my heels wildly to the breeze till Deniston thought I must
be taken suddenly mad; but when I explained he did the same. It is too
enchanting, the whole of it. I put it at the head of all the nice things
that ever happened, except my baby. Write the moment you get this by
what train you expect to reach Boston, and when you roll into the
station you will behold two forms, one tall and stalwart, the other
short and fatsome, waiting for you. They will be those of Deniston and
myself. Deniston is not beautiful, but he is good, and he is prepared to
_adore_ you. The baby is both good and beautiful, and you will adore
her. I am neither; but you know all about me, and I always did adore you
and always shall. I am going out this moment to the butcher's to order a
calf fatted for your special behoof; and he shall be slain and made into
cutlets the moment I hear from you. My funny little house, which is
quite a dear little house too, assumes a new interest in my eyes from
the fact that you so soon are to see it. It is somewhat queer, as you
might know my house would be; but I think you will like it.

"I saw Silvery Mary the other day and told her you were coming. She is
the same mouse as ever. I shall ask her and some of the other girls to
come out to lunch on one of your days. Good-by, with a hundred and fifty
kisses to Clovy and the rest.

"Your loving

"ROSE RED."

"She never signs herself Browne, I observe," said Clover, as she
finished the letter.

"Oh, Rose Red Browne would sound too funny. Rose Red she must stay till
the end of the chapter; no other name could suit her half so well, and I
can't imagine her being called anything else. What fun it will be to see
her and little Rose!"

"And Deniston Browne," put in Clover.

"Somehow I find it rather hard to take in the fact that there is a
Deniston Browne," observed Katy.

"It will be easier after you have seen him, perhaps."

The last day came, as last days will. Katy's trunk, most carefully
and exactly packed by the united efforts of the family, stood in the
hall, locked and strapped, not to be opened again till the party
reached London. This fact gave it a certain awful interest in the
eyes of Phil and Johnnie, and even Elsie gazed upon it with respect.
The little valise was also ready; and Dorry, the neat-handed, had
painted a red star on both ends of both it and the trunk, that they
might be easily picked from among a heap of luggage. He now proceeded
to prepare and paste on two square cards, labelled respectively,
"Hold" and "State-room." Mrs. Hall had told them that this was the
correct thing to do.

Mrs. Ashe had been full of business likewise in putting her house to
rights for a family who had rented it for the time of her absence, and
Katy and Clover had taken a good many hours from their own preparations
to help her. All was done at last; and one bright morning in October,
Katy stood on the wharf with her family about her, and a lump in her
throat which made it difficult to speak to any of them. She stood so
very still and said so very little, that a bystander not acquainted with
the circumstances might have dubbed her "unfeeling;" while the fact was
that she was feeling too much!

The first bell rang. Katy kissed everybody quietly and went on board
with her father. Her parting from him, hardest of all, took place in the
midst of a crowd of people; then he had to leave her, and as the wheels
began to revolve she went out on the side deck to have a last glimpse of
the home faces. There they were: Elsie crying tumultuously, with her
head on papa's coat-sleeve; John laughing, or trying to laugh, with big
tears running down her cheeks the while; and brave little Clover waving
her handkerchief encouragingly, but with a very sober look on her face.
Katy's heart went out to the little group with a sudden passion of
regret and yearning. Why had she said she would go? What was all Europe
in comparison with what she was leaving? Life was so short, how could
she take a whole year out of it to spend away from the people she loved
best? If it had been left to her to choose, I think she would have flown
back to the shore then and there, and given up the journey, I also think
she would have been heartily sorry a little later, had she done so.

But it was not left for her to choose. Already the throb of the engines
was growing more regular and the distance widening between the great
boat and the wharf. Gradually the dear faces faded into distance; and
after watching till the flutter of Clover's handkerchief became an
undistinguishable speck, Katy went to the cabin with a heavy heart. But
there were Mrs. Ashe and Amy, inclined to be homesick also, and in need
of cheering; and Katy, as she tried to brighten them, gradually grew
bright herself, and recovered her hopeful spirits. Burnet pulled less
strongly as it got farther away, and Europe beckoned more brilliantly
now that they were fairly embarked on their journey. The sun shone, the
lake was a beautiful, dazzling blue, and Katy said to herself, "After
all, a year is not very long, and how happy I am going to be!"



CHAPTER III.

ROSE AND ROSEBUD.


Thirty-six hours later the Albany train, running smoothly across the
green levels beyond the Mill Dam, brought the travellers to Boston.

Katy looked eagerly from the window for her first glimpse of the city of
which she had heard so much. "Dear little Boston! How nice it is to see
it again!" she heard a lady behind her say; but why it should be called
"little Boston" she could not imagine. Seen from the train, it looked
large, imposing, and very picturesque, after flat Burnet with its one
bank down to the edge of the lake. She studied the towers, steeples, and
red roofs crowding each other up the slopes of the Tri-Mountain, and the
big State House dome crowning all, and made up her mind that she liked
the looks of it better than any other city she had ever seen.

The train slackened its speed, ran for a few moments between rows of
tall, shabby brick walls, and with a long, final screech of its whistle
came to halt in the station-house. Every one made a simultaneous rush
for the door; and Katy and Mrs. Ashe, waiting to collect their books and
bags, found themselves wedged into their seats and unable to get out. It
was a confusing moment, and not comfortable; such moments never are.

But the discomfort brightened into a sense of relief as, looking out of
the window, Katy caught sight of a face exactly opposite, which had
evidently caught sight of her,--a fresh, pretty face, with light, waving
hair, pink cheeks all a-dimple, and eyes which shone with laughter and
welcome. It was Rose herself, not a bit changed during the years since
they parted. A tall young man stood beside her, who must, of course, be
her husband, Deniston Browne.

"There is Rose Red," cried Katy to Mrs. Ashe. "Oh, doesn't she look dear
and natural? Do wait and let me introduce you. I want you to know her."

But the train had come in a little behind time, and Mrs. Ashe was
afraid of missing the Hingham boat; so she only took a hasty peep
from the window at Rose, pronounced her to be charming-looking,
kissed Katy hurriedly, reminded her that they must be on the steamer
punctually at twelve o'clock the following Saturday, and was gone,
with Amy beside her; so that Katy, following last of all the
slow-moving line of passengers, stepped all alone down from the
platform into the arms of Rose Red.

"You darling!" was Rose's first greeting. "I began to think you meant
to spend the night in the car, you were so long in getting out. Well,
how perfectly lovely this is! Deniston, here is Katy; Katy, this is
my husband."

Rose looked about fifteen as she spoke, and so absurdly young to have a
"husband," that Katy could not help laughing as she shook hands with
"Deniston;" and his own eyes twinkled with fun and evident recognition
of the same joke. He was a tall young man, with a pleasant, "steady"
face, and seemed to be infinitely amused, in a quiet way, with
everything which his wife said and did.

"Let us make haste and get out of this hole," went on Rose. "I can
scarcely see for the smoke. Deniston, dear, please find the cab, and
have Katy's luggage put on it. I am wild to get her home, and exhibit
baby before she chews up her new sash or does something else that is
dreadful, to spoil her looks. I left her sitting in state, Katy, with
all her best clothes on, waiting to be made known to you."

"My large trunk is to go straight to the steamer," explained Katy, as
she gave her checks to Mr. Browne. "I only want the little one taken out
to Longwood, please."

"Now, this is cosey," remarked Rose, when they were seated in the cab
with Katy's bag at their feet. "Deniston, my love, I wish you were going
out with us. There's a nice little bench here all ready and vacant,
which is just suited to a man of your inches. You won't? Well, come in
the early train, then. Don't forget.--Now, isn't he just as nice as I
told you he was?" she demanded, the moment the cab began to move.

"He looks very nice indeed, as far as I can judge in three minutes and
a quarter."

"My dear, it ought not to take anybody of ordinary discernment a minute
and a quarter to perceive that he is simply the dearest fellow that ever
lived," said Rose. "I discovered it three seconds after I first beheld
him, and was desperately in love with him before he had fairly finished
his first bow after introduction."

"And was he equally prompt?" asked Katy.

"He says so," replied Rose, with a pretty blush. "But then, you know, he
could hardly say less after such a frank confession on my part. It is no
more than decent of him to make believe, even if it is not true. Now,
Katy, look at Boston, and see if you don't _love_ it!"

The cab had now turned into Boylston Street; and on the right hand lay
the Common, green as summer after the autumn rains, with the elm arches
leafy still. Long, slant beams of afternoon sun were filtering through
the boughs and falling across the turf and the paths, where people were
walking and sitting, and children and babies playing together. It was a
delightful scene; and Katy received an impression of space and cheer and
air and freshness, which ever after was associated with her recollection
of Boston.

Rose was quite satisfied with her raptures as they drove through Charles
Street, between the Common and the Public Garden, all ablaze with autumn
flowers, and down the length of Beacon Street with the blue bay shining
between the handsome houses on the water side. Every vestibule and
bay-window was gay with potted plants and flower-boxes; and a concourse
of happy-looking people, on foot, on horseback, and in carriages, was
surging to and fro like an equal, prosperous tide, while the sunlight
glorified all.

"'Boston shows a soft Venetian side,'" quoted Katy, after a while. "I
know now what Mr. Lowell meant when he wrote that. I don't believe there
is a more beautiful place in the world."

"Why, of course there isn't," retorted Rose, who was a most devoted
little Bostonian, in spite of the fact that she had lived in Washington
nearly all her life. "I've not seen much beside, to be sure, but that is
no matter; I know it is true. It is the dream of my life to come into
the city to live. I don't care what part I live in,--West End, South
End, North End; it's all one to me, so long as it is Boston!"

"But don't you like Longwood?" asked Katy, looking out admiringly at the
pretty places set amid vines and shrubberies, which they were now
passing. "It looks so very pretty and pleasant."

"Yes, it's well enough for any one who has a taste for natural
beauties," replied Rose. "I haven't; I never had. There is nothing I
hate so much as Nature! I'm a born cockney. I'd rather live in one room
over Jordan and Marsh's, and see the world wag past, than be the owner
of the most romantic villa that ever was built, I don't care where it
may be situated."

The cab now turned in at a gate and followed a curving drive bordered
with trees to a pretty stone house with a porch embowered with Virginia
creepers, before which it stopped.

"Here we are!" cried Rose, springing out. "Now, Katy, you mustn't even
take time to sit down before I show you the dearest baby that ever was
sent to this sinful earth. Here, let me take your bag; come straight
upstairs, and I will exhibit her to you."

They ran up accordingly, and Rose took Katy into a large sunny nursery,
where, tied with pink ribbon into a little basket-chair and watched over
by a pretty young nurse, sat a dear, fat, fair baby, so exactly like
Rose in miniature that no one could possibly have mistaken the
relationship. The baby began to laugh and coo as soon as it caught sight
of its gay little mother, and exhibited just such another dimple as
hers, in the middle of a pink cheek. Katy was enchanted.

"Oh, you darling!" she said. "Would she come to me, do you think, Rose?"

"Why, of course she shall," replied Rose, picking up the baby as if she
had been a pillow, and stuffing her into Katy's arms head first. "Now,
just look at her, and tell me if ever you saw anything so enchanting in
the whole course of your life before? Isn't she big? Isn't she
beautiful? Isn't she good? Just see her little hands and her hair! She
never cries except when it is clearly her duty to cry. See her turn her
head to look at me! Oh, you angel!" And seizing the long-suffering baby,
she smothered it with kisses. "I never, never, never did see anything so
sweet. Smell her, Katy! Doesn't she smell like heaven?"

Little Rose was indeed a delicious baby, all dimples and good-humor and
violet-powder, with a skin as soft as a lily's leaf, and a happy
capacity for allowing herself to be petted and cuddled without
remonstrance. Katy wanted to hold her all the time; but this Rose would
by no means permit; in fact, I may as well say at once that the two
girls spent a great part of their time during the visit in fighting for
the possession of the baby, who looked on at the struggle, and smiled on
the victor, whichever it happened to be, with all the philosophic
composure of Helen of Troy. She was so soft and sunny and equable, that
it was no more trouble to care for and amuse her than if she had been a
bird or a kitten; and, as Rose remarked, it was "ten times better fun."

"I was never allowed as much doll as I wanted in my infancy," she said.
"I suppose I tore them to pieces too soon; and they couldn't give me tin
ones to play with, as they did wash-bowls when I broke the china ones."

"Were you such a very bad child?" asked Katy.

"Oh, utterly depraved, I believe. You wouldn't think so now, would you?
I recollect some dreadful occasions at school. Once I had my head pinned
up in my apron because I _would_ make faces at the other scholars, and
they laughed; but I promptly bit a bay-window through the apron, and ran
my tongue out of it till they laughed worse than ever. The teacher used
to send me home with notes fastened to my pinafore with things like this
written in them: 'Little Frisk has been more troublesome than usual
to-day. She has pinched all the younger children, and bent the bonnets
of all the older ones. We hope to see an amendment soon, or we do not
know what we shall do.'"

"Why did they call you Little Frisk?" inquired Katy, after she had
recovered from the laugh which Rose's reminiscences called forth.

"It was a term of endearment, I suppose; but somehow my family never
seemed to enjoy it as they ought. I cannot understand," she went on
reflectively, "why I had not sense enough to suppress those awful
little notes. It would have been so easy to lose them on the way home,
but somehow it never occurred to me. Little Rose will be wiser than
that; won't you, my angel? She will tear up the horrid notes--mammy
will show her how!"

All the time that Katy was washing her face and brushing the dust of the
railway from her dress, Rose sat by with the little Rose in her lap,
entertaining her thus. When she was ready, the droll little mamma tucked
her baby under her arm and led the way downstairs to a large square
parlor with a bay-window, through which the westering sun was shining.
It was a pretty room, and had a flavor about it "just like Rose," Katy
declared. No one else would have hung the pictures or looped back the
curtains in exactly that way, or have hit upon the happy device of
filling the grate with a great bunch of marigolds, pale brown, golden,
and orange, to simulate the fire, which would have been quite too warm
on so mild an evening. Morris papers and chintzes and "artistic" shades
of color were in their infancy at that date; but Rose's taste was in
advance of her time, and with a foreshadowing of the coming "reaction,"
she had chosen a "greenery, yallery" paper for her walls, against which
hung various articles which looked a great deal queerer then than they
would to-day. There was a mandolin, picked up at some Eastern sale, a
warming-pan in shining brass from her mother's attic, two old samplers
worked in faded silks, and a quantity of gayly tinted Japanese fans and
embroideries. She had also begged from an old aunt at Beverly Farms a
couple of droll little armchairs in white painted wood, with covers of
antique needle-work. One had "Chit" embroidered on the middle of its
cushion; the other, "Chat." These stood suggestively at the corners of
the hearth.

"Now, Katy," said Rose, seating herself in "Chit," "pull up 'Chat' and
let us begin."

So they did begin, and went on, interrupted only by Baby Rose's coos and
splutters, till the dusk fell, till appetizing smells floated through
from the rear of the house, and the click of a latch-key announced Mr.
Browne, come home just in time for dinner.

The two days' visit went only too quickly. There is nothing more
fascinating to a girl than the menage of a young couple of her own age.
It is a sort of playing at real life without the cares and the sense of
responsibility that real life is sure to bring. Rose was an adventurous
housekeeper. She was still new to the position, she found it very
entertaining, and she delighted in experiments of all sorts. If they
turned out well, it was good fun; if not, that was funnier still! Her
husband, for all his serious manner, had a real boy's love of a lark,
and he aided and abetted her in all sorts of whimsical devices. They
owned a dog who was only less dear than the baby, a cat only less dear
than the dog, a parrot whose education required constant supervision,
and a hutch of ring-doves whose melancholy little "whuddering" coos were
the delight of Rose the less. The house seemed astir with young life all
over. The only elderly thing in it was the cook, who had the reputation
of a dreadful temper; only, unfortunately, Rose made her laugh so much
that she never found time to be cross.

Katy felt quite an old, experienced person amid all this movement and
liveliness and cheer. It seemed to her that nobody in the world could
possibly be having such a good time as Rose; but Rose did not take the
same view of the situation.

"It's all very well now," she said, "while the warm weather lasts; but
in winter Longwood is simply grewsome. The wind never stops blowing day
nor night. It howls and it roars and it screams, till I feel as if every
nerve in my body were on the point of snapping in two. And the snow,
ugh! And the wind, ugh! And burglars! Every night of our lives they
come,--or I think they come,--and I lie awake and hear them sharpening
their tools and forcing the locks and murdering the cook and kidnapping
Baby, till I long to die, and have done with them forever! Oh, Nature is
the most unpleasant thing!"

"Burglars are not Nature," objected Katy.

"What are they, then? Art? High Art? Well, whatever they are, I do not
like them. Oh, if ever the happy day comes when Deniston consents to
move into town, I never wish to set my eyes on the country again as long
as I live, unless--well, yes, I should like to come out just once more
in the horse-cars and _kick_ that elm-tree by the fence! The number of
times that I have lain awake at night listening to its creaking!"

"You might kick it without waiting to have a house in town."

"Oh, I shouldn't dare as long as we are living here! You never know what
Nature may do. She has ways of her own of getting even with people,"
remarked her friend, solemnly.

No time must be lost in showing Boston to Katy, Rose said. So the
morning after her arrival she was taken in bright and early to see the
sights. There were not quite so many sights to be seen then as there are
today. The Art Museum had not got much above its foundations; the new
Trinity Church was still in the future; but the big organ and the bronze
statue of Beethoven were in their glory, and every day at high noon a
small straggling audience wandered into Music Hall to hear the
instrument played. To this extempore concert Katy was taken, and to
Faneuil Hall and the Athenaeum, to Doll and Richards's, where was an
exhibition of pictures, to the Granary Graveyard, and the Old South.
Then the girls did a little shopping; and by that time they were quite
tired enough to make the idea of luncheon agreeable, so they took the
path across the Common to the Joy Street Mall.

Katy was charmed by all she had seen. The delightful nearness of so many
interesting things surprised her. She perceived what is one of Boston's
chief charms,--that the Common and its surrounding streets make a
natural centre and rallying-point for the whole city; as the heart is
the centre of the body and keeps up a quick correspondence and regulates
the life of all its extremities. The stately old houses on Beacon
Street, with their rounded fronts, deep window-casements, and here and
there a mauve or a lilac pane set in the sashes, took her fancy greatly;
and so did the State House, whose situation made it sufficiently
imposing, even before the gilding of the dome.

Up the steep steps of the Joy Street Mall they went, to the house on Mt.
Vernon Street which the Reddings had taken on their return from
Washington nearly three years before. Rose had previously shown Katy the
site of the old family house on Summer Street, where she was born, now
given over wholly to warehouses and shops. Their present residence was
one of those wide old-fashioned brick houses on the crest of the hill,
whose upper windows command the view across to the Boston Highlands; in
the rear was a spacious yard, almost large enough to be called a garden,
walled in with ivies and grapevines, under which were long beds full of
roses and chrysanthemums and marigolds and mignonette.

Rose carried a latch-key in her pocket, which she said had been one of
her wedding-gifts; with this she unlocked the front door and let Katy
into a roomy white-painted hall.

"We will go straight through to the back steps," she said. "Mamma is
sure to be sitting there; she always sits there till the first frost;
she says it makes her think of the country. How different people are! I
don't want to think of the country, but I'm never allowed to forget it
for a moment. Mamma is so fond of those steps and the garden."

There, to be sure, Mrs. Redding was found sitting in a wicker-work
chair under the shade of the grapevines, with a big basket of mending
at her side. It looked so homely and country-like to find a person
thus occupied in the middle of a busy city, that Katy's heart warmed
to her at once.

Mrs. Redding was a fair little woman, scarcely taller than Rose and very
much like her. She gave Katy a kind welcome.

"You do not seem like a stranger," she said, "Rose has told us so much
about you and your sister. Sylvia will be very disappointed not to see
you. She went off to make some visits when we broke up in the country,
and is not to be home for three weeks yet."

Katy was disappointed, too, for she had heard a great deal about Sylvia
and had wished very much to meet her. She was shown her picture, from
which she gathered that she did not look in the least like Rose; for
though equally fair, her fairness was of the tall aquiline type, quite
different from Rose's dimpled prettiness. In fact, Rose resembled her
mother, and Sylvia her father; they were only alike in little
peculiarities of voice and manner, of which a portrait did not enable
Katy to judge.

The two girls had a cosey little luncheon with Mrs. Redding, after which
Rose carried Katy off to see the house and everything in it which was in
any way connected with her own personal history,--the room where she
used to sleep, the high-chair in which she sat as a baby and which was
presently to be made over to little Rose, the sofa where Deniston
offered himself, and the exact spot on the carpet on which she had stood
while they were being married! Last of all,--

"Now you shall see the best and dearest thing in the whole house,"
she said, opening the door of a room in the second story.--
"Grandmamma, here is my friend Katy Carr, whom you have so often
heard me tell about."

It was a large pleasant room, with a little wood-fire blazing in a
grate, by which, in an arm-chair full of cushions, with a
Solitaire-board on a little table beside her, sat a sweet old lady.
This was Rose's father's mother. She was nearly eighty; but she was
beautiful still, and her manner had a gracious old-fashioned courtesy
which was full of charm. She had been thrown from a carriage the year
before, and had never since been able to come downstairs or to mingle
in the family life.

"They come to me instead," she told Katy. "There is no lack of pleasant
company," she added; "every one is very good to me. I have a reader for
two hours a day, and I read to myself a little, and play Patience and
Solitaire, and never lack entertainment."

There was something restful in the sight of such a lovely specimen of
old age. Katy realized, as she looked at her, what a loss it had been
to her own life that she had never known either of her grandparents.
She sat and gazed at old Mrs. Redding with a mixture of regret and
fascination. She longed to hold her hand, and kiss her, and play with
her beautiful silvery hair, as Rose did. Rose was evidently the old
lady's peculiar darling. They were on the most intimate terms; and
Rose dimpled and twinkled, and made saucy speeches, and told all her
little adventures and the baby's achievements, and made jests, and
talked nonsense as freely as to a person of her own age. It was a
delightful relation.

"Grandmamma has taken a fancy to you, I can see," she told Katy, as they
drove back to Longwood. "She always wants to know my friends; and she
has her own opinions about them, I can tell you."

"Do you really think she liked me?" said Katy, warmly. "I am so glad
if she did, for I _loved_ her. I never saw a really beautiful old
person before."

"Oh, there's nobody like her," rejoined Rose. "I can't imagine what it
would be not to have her." Her merry little face was quite sad and
serious as she spoke. "I wish she were not so old," she added with a
sigh. "If we could only put her back twenty years! Then, perhaps, she
would live as long as I do."

But, alas! there is no putting back the hands on the dial of time, no
matter how much we may desire it.

The second day of Katy's visit was devoted to the luncheon-party of
which Rose had written in her letter, and which was meant to be a
reunion or "side chapter" of the S.S.U.C. Rose had asked every old
Hillsover girl who was within reach. There was Mary Silver, of course,
and Esther Dearborn, both of whom lived in Boston; and by good luck
Alice Gibbons happened to be making Esther a visit, and Ellen Gray came
in from Waltham, where her father had recently been settled over a
parish, so that all together they made six of the original nine of the
society; and Quaker Row itself never heard a merrier confusion of
tongues than resounded through Rose's pretty parlor for the first hour
after the arrival of the guests.

There was everybody to ask after, and everything to tell. The girls all
seemed wonderfully unchanged to Katy, but they professed to find her
very grown up and dignified.

"I wonder if I am," she said. "Clover never told me so. But perhaps she
has grown dignified too."

"Nonsense!" cried Rose; "Clover could no more be dignified than my baby
could. Mary Silver, give me that child this moment! I never saw such a
greedy thing as you are; you have kept her to yourself at least a
quarter of an hour, and it isn't fair."

"Oh, I beg your pardon," said Mary, laughing and covering her mouth with
her hand exactly in her old, shy, half-frightened way.

"We only need Mrs. Nipson to make our little party complete," went on
Rose, "or dear Miss Jane! What has become of Miss Jane, by the way? Do
any of you know?"

"Oh, she is still teaching at Hillsover and waiting for her missionary.
He has never come back. Berry Searles says that when he goes out to walk
he always walks away from the United States, for fear of diminishing the
distance between them."

"What a shame!" said Katy, though she could not help laughing. "Miss
Jane was really quite nice,--no, not nice exactly, but she had good
things about her."

"Had she!" remarked Rose, satirically. "I never observed them. It
required eyes like yours, real 'double million magnifying-glasses of
h'extra power,' to find them out. She was all teeth and talons as far
as I was concerned; but I think she really did have a softish spot in
her old heart for you, Katy, and it's the only good thing I ever knew
about her."

"What has become of Lilly Page?" asked Ellen.

"She's in Europe with her mother. I dare say you'll meet, Katy, and what
a pleasure that will be! And have you heard about Bella? she's teaching
school in the Indian Territory. Just fancy that scrap teaching school!"

"Isn't it dangerous?" asked Mary Silver.

"Dangerous? How? To her scholars, do you mean? Oh, the Indians! Well,
her scalp will be easy to identify if she has adhered to her favorite
pomatum; that's one comfort," put in naughty Rose.

It was a merry luncheon indeed, as little Rose seemed to think, for she
laughed and cooed incessantly. The girls were enchanted with her, and
voted her by acclamation an honorary member of the S.S.U.C. Her health
was drunk in Apollinaris water with all the honors, and Rose returned
thanks in a droll speech. The friends told each other their histories
for the past three years; but it was curious how little, on the whole,
most of them had to tell. Though, perhaps, that was because they did not
tell all; for Alice Gibbons confided to Katy in a whisper that she
strongly suspected Esther of being engaged, and at the same moment Ellen
Gray was convulsing Rose by the intelligence that a theological student
from Andover was "very attentive" to Mary Silver.

"My dear, I don't believe it," Rose said, "not even a theological
student would dare! and if he did, I am quite sure Mary would consider
it most improper. You must be mistaken, Ellen."

"No, I'm not mistaken; for the theological student is my second cousin,
and his sister told me all about it. They are not engaged exactly, but
she hasn't said no; so he hopes she will say yes."

"Oh, she'll never say no; but then she will never say yes, either. He
would better take silence as consent! Well, I never did think I should
live to see Silvery Mary married. I should as soon have expected to find
the Thirty-nine Articles engaged in a flirtation. She's a dear old
thing, though, and as good as gold; and I shall consider your second
cousin a lucky man if he persuades her."

"I wonder where we shall all be when you come back, Katy," said Esther
Dearborn as they parted at the gate. "A year is a long time; all sorts
of things may happen in a year."

These words rang in Katy's ears as she fell asleep that night. "All
sorts of things may happen in a year," she thought, "and they may not be
all happy things, either." Almost she wished that the journey to Europe
had never been thought of!

But when she waked the next morning to the brightest of October suns
shining out of a clear blue sky, her misgivings fled. There could not
have been a more beautiful day for their start.

She and Rose went early into town, for old Mrs. Bedding had made Katy
promise to come for a few minutes to say good-by. They found her sitting
by the fire as usual, though her windows were open to admit the
sun-warmed air. A little basket of grapes stood on the table beside her,
with a nosegay of tea-roses on top. These were from Rose's mother, for
Katy to take on board the steamer; and there was something else, a small
parcel twisted up in thin white paper.

"It is my good-by gift," said the dear old lady. "Don't open it now.
Keep it till you are well out at sea, and get some little thing with it
as a keepsake from me."

Grateful and wondering, Katy put the little parcel in her pocket. With
kisses and good wishes she parted from these new made friends, and she
and Rose drove to the steamer, stopping for Mr. Browne by the way. They
were a little late, so there was not much time for farewells after they
arrived; but Rose snatched a moment for a private interview with the
stewardess, unnoticed by Katy, who was busy with Mrs. Ashe and Amy.

The bell rang, and the great steam-vessel slowly backed into the stream.
Then her head was turned to sea, and down the bay she went, leaving Rose
and her husband still waving their handkerchiefs on the pier. Katy
watched them to the last, and when she could no longer distinguish them,
felt that her final link with home was broken.

It was not till she had settled her things in the little cabin which
was to be her home for the next ten days, had put her bonnet and dress
for safe keeping in the upper berth, nailed up her red and yellow bag,
and donned the woollen gown, ulster, and soft felt hat which were to do
service during the voyage, that she found time to examine the
mysterious parcel.

Behold, it was a large, beautiful gold-piece, twenty dollars!

"What a darling old lady!" said Katy; and she gave the gold-piece a
kiss. "How did she come to think of such a thing? I wonder if there is
anything in Europe good enough to buy with it?"



CHAPTER IV.

ON THE "SPARTACUS."


The ulster and the felt hat soon came off again, for a head wind lay
waiting in the offing, and the "Spartacus" began to pitch and toss in a
manner which made all her unseasoned passengers glad to betake
themselves to their berths. Mrs. Ashe and Amy were among the earliest
victims of sea-sickness; and Katy, after helping them to settle in their
staterooms, found herself too dizzy and ill to sit up a moment longer,
and thankfully resorted to her own.

As the night came on, the wind grew stronger and the motion worse. The
"Spartacus" had the reputation of being a dreadful "roller," and seemed
bound to justify it on this particular voyage. Down, down, down the
great hull would slide till Katy would hold her breath with fear lest it
might never right itself again; then slowly, slowly the turn would be
made, and up, up, up it would go, till the cant on the other side was
equally alarming. On the whole, Katy preferred to have her own side of
the ship, the downward one; for it was less difficult to keep herself in
the berth, from which she was in continual danger of being thrown. The
night seemed endless, for she was too frightened to sleep except in
broken snatches; and when day dawned, and she looked through the little
round pane of glass in the port-hole, only gray sky and gray weltering
waves and flying spray and rain met her view.

"Oh, dear, why do people ever go to sea, unless they must?" she thought
feebly to herself. She wanted to get up and see how Mrs. Ashe had lived
through the night, but the attempt to move made her so miserably ill
that she was glad to sink again on her pillows.

The stewardess looked in with offers of tea and toast, the very idea
of which was simply dreadful, and pronounced the other lady "'orridly
ill, worse than you are, Miss," and the little girl "takin' on
dreadful in the h'upper berth." Of this fact Katy soon had audible
proof; for as her dizzy senses rallied a little, she could hear Amy in
the opposite stateroom crying and sobbing pitifully. She seemed to be
angry as well as sick, for she was scolding her poor mother in the
most vehement fashion.

"I hate being at sea," Katy heard her say. "I won't stay in this nasty
old ship. Mamma! Mamma! do you hear me? I won't stay in this ship! It
wasn't a bit kind of you to bring me to such a horrid place. It was very
unkind; it was cru-el. I want to go back, mamma. Tell the captain to
take me back to the land. Mamma, why don't you speak to me? Oh, I am so
sick and so very un-happy. Don't you wish you were dead? I do!"

And then came another storm of sobs, but never a sound from Mrs. Ashe,
who, Katy suspected, was too ill to speak. She felt very sorry for poor
little Amy, raging there in her high berth like some imprisoned
creature, but she was powerless to help her. She could only resign
herself to her own discomforts, and try to believe that somehow,
sometime, this state of things must mend,--either they should all get to
land or all go to the bottom and be drowned, and at that moment she
didn't care very much which it turned out to be.

The gale increased as the day wore on, and the vessel pitched
dreadfully. Twice Katy was thrown out of her berth on the floor; then
the stewardess came and fixed a sort of movable side to the berth, which
held her in, but made her feel like a child fastened into a railed crib.
At intervals she could still hear Amy crying and scolding her mother,
and conjectured that they were having a dreadful time of it in the other
stateroom. It was all like a bad dream. "And they call this travelling
for pleasure!" thought poor Katy.

One droll thing happened in the course of the second night,--at least it
seemed droll afterward; at the time Katy was too uncomfortable to enjoy
it. Amid the rush of the wind, the creaking of the ship's timbers, and
the shrill buzz of the screw, she heard a sound of queer little
footsteps in the entry outside of her open door, hopping and leaping
together in an odd irregular way, like a regiment of mice or toy
soldiers. Nearer and nearer they came; and Katy opening her eyes saw a
procession of boots and shoes of all sizes and shapes, which had
evidently been left on the floors or at the doors of various staterooms,
and which in obedience to the lurchings of the vessel had collected in
the cabin. They now seemed to be acting in concert with one another, and
really looked alive as they bumped and trotted side by side, and two by
two, in at the door and up close to her bedside. There they remained for
several moments executing what looked like a dance; then the leading
shoe turned on its heel as if giving a signal to the others, and they
all hopped slowly again into the passage-way and disappeared. It was
exactly like one of Hans Christian Andersen's fairy-tales, Katy wrote to
Clover afterward. She heard them going down the cabin; but how it ended,
or whether the owners of the boots and shoes ever got their own
particular pairs again, she never knew.

Toward morning the gale abated, the sea became smoother, and she dropped
asleep. When she woke the sun was struggling through the clouds, and she
felt better.

The stewardess opened the port-hole to freshen the air, and helped her
to wash her face and smooth her tangled hair; then she produced a little
basin of gruel and a triangular bit of toast, and Katy found that her
appetite was come again and she could eat.

"And 'ere's a letter, ma'am, which has come for you by post this
morning," said the nice old stewardess, producing an envelope from her
pocket, and eying her patient with great satisfaction.

"By post!" cried Katy, in amazement; "why, how can that be?" Then
catching sight of Rose's handwriting on the envelope, she understood,
and smiled at her own simplicity.

The stewardess beamed at her as she opened it, then saying again, "Yes,
'm, by post, m'm," withdrew, and left Katy to enjoy the little surprise.

The letter was not long, but it was very like its writer. Rose drew a
picture of what Katy would probably be doing at the time it reached
her,--a picture so near the truth that Katy felt as if Rose must have
the spirit of prophecy, especially as she kindly illustrated the
situation with a series of pen-and-ink drawings, in which Katy was
depicted as prone in her berth, refusing with horror to go to dinner,
looking longingly backward toward the quarter where the United States
was supposed to be, and fishing out of her port-hole with a crooked pin
in hopes of grappling the submarine cable and sending a message to her
family to come out at once and take her home. It ended with this short
"poem," over which Katy laughed till Mrs. Ashe called feebly across the
entry to ask what _was_ the matter?

  "Break, break, break
    And mis-behave, O sea,
  And I wish that my tongue could utter
    The hatred I feel for thee!

  "Oh, well for the fisherman's child
    On the sandy beach at his play;
  Oh, well for all sensible folk
    Who are safe at home to-day!

  "But this horrible ship keeps on,
    And is never a moment still,
  And I yearn for the touch of the nice dry land,
    Where I needn't feel so ill!

  "Break! break! break!
    There is no good left in me;
  For the dinner I ate on the shore so late
    Has vanished into the sea!"

Laughter is very restorative after the forlornity of sea-sickness; and
Katy was so stimulated by her letter that she managed to struggle into
her dressing-gown and slippers and across the entry to Mrs. Ashe's
stateroom. Amy had fallen asleep at last and must not be waked up, so
their interview was conducted in whispers. Mrs. Ashe had by no means got
to the tea-and-toast stage yet, and was feeling miserable enough.

"I have had the most dreadful time with Amy," she said. "All day
yesterday, when she wasn't sick she was raging at me from the upper
berth, and I too ill to say a word in reply. I never knew her so
naughty! And it seemed very neglectful not to come to see after you,
poor dear child! but really I couldn't raise my head."

"Neither could I, and I felt just as guilty not to be taking care of
you," said Katy. "Well, the worst is over with all of us, I hope. The
vessel doesn't pitch half so much now, and the stewardess says we shall
feel a great deal better as soon as we get on deck. She is coming
presently to help me up; and when Amy wakes, won't you let her be
dressed, and I will take care of her while Mrs. Barrett attends to you."

"I don't think I can be dressed," sighed poor Mrs. Ashe. "I feel as if I
should just lie here till we get to Liverpool."

"Oh no, h'indeed, mum,--no, you won't," put in Mrs. Barrett, who at that
moment appeared, gruel-cup in hand. "I don't never let my ladies lie in
their berths a moment longer than there is need of. I h'always gets them
on deck as soon as possible to get the h'air. It's the best medicine you
can 'ave, ma'am, the fresh h'air; h'indeed it h'is."

Stewardesses are all-powerful on board ship, and Mrs. Barrett was so
persuasive as well as positive that it was not possible to resist her.
She got Katy into her dress and wraps, and seated her on deck in a chair
with a great rug wrapped about her feet, with very little effort on
Katy's part. Then she dived down the companion-way again, and in the
course of an hour appeared escorting a big burly steward, who carried
poor little pale Amy in his arms as easily as though she had been a
kitten. Amy gave a scream of joy at the sight of Katy, and cuddled down
in her lap under the warm rug with a sigh of relief and satisfaction.

"I thought I was never going to see you again," she said, with a little
squeeze. "Oh, Miss Katy, it has been so horrid! I never thought that
going to Europe meant such dreadful things as this!"

"This is only the beginning; we shall get across the sea in a few days,
and then we shall find out what going to Europe really means. But what
made you behave so, Amy, and cry and scold poor mamma when she was sick?
I could hear you all the way across the entry."

"Could you? Then why didn't you come to me?"

"I wanted to; but I was sick too, so sick that I couldn't move. But why
were you so naughty?--you didn't tell me."

"I didn't mean to be naughty, but I couldn't help crying. You would have
cried too, and so would Johnnie, if you had been cooped up in a dreadful
old berth at the top of the wall that you couldn't get out of, and
hadn't had anything to eat, and nobody to bring you any water when you
wanted some. And mamma wouldn't answer when I called to her."

"She couldn't answer; she was too ill," explained Katy. "Well, my pet,
it _was_ pretty hard for you. I hope we sha'n't have any more such days.
The sea is a great deal smoother now."

"Mabel looks quite pale; she was sick, too," said Amy, regarding the
doll in her arms with an anxious air. "I hope the fresh h'air will do
her good."

"Is she going to have any fresh hair?" asked Katy, wilfully
misunderstanding.

"That was what that woman called it,--the fat one who made me come up
here. But I'm glad she did, for I feel heaps better already; only I keep
thinking of poor little Maria Matilda shut up in the trunk in that dark
place, and wondering if she's sick. There's nobody to explain to her
down there."

"They say that you don't feel the motion half so much in the bottom of
the ship," said Katy. "Perhaps she hasn't noticed it at all. Dear me,
how good something smells! I wish they would bring us something to eat."

A good many passengers had come up by this time; and Robert, the deck
steward, was going about, tray in hand, taking orders for lunch. Amy and
Katy both felt suddenly ravenous; and when Mrs. Ashe awhile later was
helped up the stairs, she was amazed to find them eating cold beef and
roasted potatoes, with the finest appetites in the world. "They had
served out their apprenticeships," the kindly old captain told them,
"and were made free of the nautical guild from that time on." So it
proved; for after these two bad days none of the party were sick again
during the voyage.

Amy had a clamorous appetite for stories as well as for cold beef; and
to appease this craving, Katy started a sort of ocean serial, called
"The History of Violet and Emma," which she meant to make last till they
got to Liverpool, but which in reality lasted much longer. It might with
equal propriety have been called "The Adventures of two little Girls who
didn't have any Adventures," for nothing in particular happened to
either Violet or Emma during the whole course of their long-drawn-out
history. Amy, however, found them perfectly enchanting, and was never
weary of hearing how they went to school and came home again, how they
got into scrapes and got out of them, how they made good resolutions and
broke them, about their Christmas presents and birthday treats, and what
they said and how they felt. The first instalment of this un-exciting
romance was given that first afternoon on deck; and after that, Amy
claimed a new chapter daily, and it was a chief ingredient of her
pleasure during the voyage.

On the third morning Katy woke and dressed so early, that she gained the
deck before the sailors had finished their scrubbing and holystoning.
She took refuge within the companion-way, and sat down on the top step
of the ladder, to wait till the deck was dry enough to venture upon it.
There the Captain found her and drew near for a talk.

Captain Bryce was exactly the kind of sea-captain that is found in
story-books, but not always in real life. He was stout and grizzled and
brown and kind. He had a bluff weather-beaten face, lit up with a pair
of shrewd blue eyes which twinkled when he was pleased; and his manner,
though it was full of the habit of command, was quiet and pleasant. He
was a Martinet on board his ship. Not a sailor under him would have
dared dispute his orders for a moment; but he was very popular with
them, notwithstanding; they liked him as much as they feared him, for
they knew him to be their best friend if it came to sickness or trouble
with any of them.

Katy and he grew quite intimate during their long morning talk. The
Captain liked girls. He had one of his own, about Katy's age, and was
fond of talking about her. Lucy was his mainstay at home, he told Katy.
Her mother had been "weakly" now this long time back, and Bess and Nanny
were but children yet, so Lucy had to take command and keep things
ship-shape when he was away.

"She'll be on the lookout when the steamer comes in," said the Captain.
"There's a signal we've arranged which means 'All's well,' and when we
get up the river a little way I always look to see if it's flying. It's
a bit of a towel hung from a particular window; and when I see it I say
to myself, 'Thank God! another voyage safely done and no harm come of
it.' It's a sad kind of work for a man to go off for a twenty-four days'
cruise leaving a sick wife on shore behind him. If it wasn't that I have
Lucy to look after things, I should have thrown up my command long ago."

"Indeed, I am glad you have Lucy; she must be a great comfort to you,"
said Katy, sympathetically; for the Captain's hearty voice trembled a
little as he spoke. She made him tell her the color of Lucy's hair and
eyes, and exactly how tall she was, and what she had studied, and what
sort of books she liked. She seemed such a very nice girl, and Katy
thought she should like to know her.

The deck had dried fast in the fresh sea-wind, and the Captain had just
arranged Katy in her chair, and was wrapping the rug about her feet in a
fatherly way, when Mrs. Barrett, all smiles, appeared from below.

"Oh, 'ere you h'are, Miss. I couldn't think what 'ad come to you so
early; and you're looking ever so well again, I'm pleased to see; and
'ere's a bundle just arrived, Miss, by the Parcels Delivery."

"What!" cried simple Katy. Then she laughed at her own foolishness, and
took the "bundle," which was directed in Rose's unmistakable hand.

It contained a pretty little green-bound copy of Emerson's Poems, with
Katy's name and "To be read at sea," written on the flyleaf. Somehow the
little gift seemed to bridge the long misty distance which stretched
between the vessel's stern and Boston Bay, and to bring home and friends
a great deal nearer. With a half-happy, half-tearful pleasure Katy
recognized the fact that distance counts for little if people love one
another, and that hearts have a telegraph of their own whose messages
are as sure and swift as any of those sent over the material lines which
link continent to continent and shore with shore.

Later in the morning, Katy, going down to her stateroom for something,
came across a pallid, exhausted-looking lady, who lay stretched on one
of the long sofas in the cabin, with a baby in her arms and a little
girl sitting at her feet, quite still, with a pair of small hands folded
in her lap. The little girl did not seem to be more than four years old.
She had two pig-tails of thick flaxen hair hanging over her shoulders,
and at Katy's approach raised a pair of solemn blue eyes, which had so
much appeal in them, though she said nothing, that Katy stopped at once.

"Can I do anything for you?" she asked. "I am afraid you have been
very ill."

At the sound of her voice the lady on the sofa opened her eyes. She
tried to speak, but to Katy's dismay began to cry instead; and when the
words came they were strangled with sobs.

"You are so kin-d to ask," she said. "If you would give my little girl
something to eat! She has had nothing since yesterday, and I have been
so ill; and no-nobody has c-ome near us!"

"Oh!" cried Katy, with horror, "nothing to eat since yesterday! How did
it happen?"

"Everybody has been sick on our side the ship," explained the poor lady,
"and I suppose the stewardess thought, as I had a maid with me, that I
needed her less than the others. But my maid has been sick, too; and oh,
so selfish! She wouldn't even take the baby into the berth with her; and
I have had all I could do to manage with him, when I couldn't lift up my
head. Little Gretchen has had to go without anything; and she has been
so good and patient!"

Katy lost no time, but ran for Mrs. Barrett, whose indignation knew no
bounds when she heard how the helpless party had been neglected.

"It's a new person that stewardess h'is, ma'am," she explained, "and
most h'inefficient! I told the Captain when she come aboard that I
didn't 'ave much opinion of her, and now he'll see how it h'is. I'm
h'ashamed that such a thing should 'appen on the 'Spartacus,' ma'am,--I
h'am, h'indeed. H'it never would 'ave ben so h'under h'Eliza,
ma'am,--she's the one that went h'off and got herself married the trip
before last, when this person came to take her place."

All the time that she talked Mrs. Barrett was busy in making Mrs.
Ware--for that, it seemed, was the sick lady's name--more comfortable;
and Katy was feeding Gretchen out of a big bowl full of bread and milk
which one of the stewards had brought. The little uncomplaining thing
was evidently half starved, but with the mouthfuls the pink began to
steal back into her cheeks and lips, and the dark circles lessened under
the blue eyes. By the time the bottom of the bowl was reached she could
smile, but still she said not a word except a whispered _Danke schon_.
Her mother explained that she had been born in Germany, and always till
now had been cared for by a German nurse, so that she knew that language
better than English.

[Illustration: Katy was feeding Gretchen out of a big bowl full of bread
and milk.]

Gretchen was a great amusement to Katy and Amy during the rest of the
voyage. They kept her on deck with them a great deal, and she was
perfectly content with them and very good, though always solemn and
quiet. Pleasant people turned up among the passengers, as always happens
on an ocean steamship, and others not so pleasant, perhaps, who were
rather curious and interesting to watch.

Katy grew to feel as if she knew a great deal about her fellow
travellers as time went on. There was the young girl going out to join
her parents under the care of a severe governess, whom everybody on
board rather pitied. There was the other girl on her way to study art,
who was travelling quite alone, and seemed to have nobody to meet her or
to go to except a fellow student of her own age, already in Paris, but
who seemed quite unconscious of her lonely position and competent to
grapple with anything or anybody. There was the queer old gentleman who
had "crossed" eleven times before, and had advice and experience to
spare for any one who would listen to them; and the other gentleman, not
so old but even more queer, who had "frozen his stomach," eight years
before, by indulging, on a hot summer's day, in sixteen successive
ice-creams, alternated with ten glasses of equally cold soda-water, and
who related this exciting experience in turn to everybody on board.
There was the bad little boy, whose parents were powerless to oppose
him, and who carried terror to the hearts of all beholders whenever he
appeared; and the pretty widow who filled the role of reigning belle;
and the other widow, not quite so pretty or so much a belle, who had a
good deal to say, in a voice made discreetly low, about what a pity it
was that dear Mrs. So-and-so should do this or that, and "Doesn't it
strike you as very unfortunate that she should not consider" the other
thing? A great sea-going steamer is a little world in itself, and gives
one a glimpse of all sorts and conditions of people and characters.

On the whole, there was no one on the "Spartacus" whom Katy liked so
well as sedate little Gretchen except the dear old Captain, with whom
she was a prime favorite. He gave Mrs. Ashe and herself the seats next
to him at table, looked after their comfort in every possible way, and
each night at dinner sent Katy one of the apple-dumplings made specially
for him by the cook, who had gone many voyages with the Captain and knew
his fancies. Katy did not care particularly for the dumpling, but she
valued it as a mark of regard, and always ate it when she could.

Meanwhile, every morning brought a fresh surprise from that dear,
painstaking Rose, who had evidently worked hard and thought harder in
contriving pleasures for Katy's first voyage at sea. Mrs. Barrett was
enlisted in the plot, there could be no doubt of that, and enjoyed the
joke as much as any one, as she presented herself each day with the
invariable formula, "A letter for you, ma'am," or "A bundle, Miss, come
by the Parcels Delivery." On the fourth morning it was a photograph of
Baby Rose, in a little flat morocco case. The fifth brought a wonderful
epistle, full of startling pieces of news, none of them true. On the
sixth appeared a long narrow box containing a fountain pen. Then came
Mr. Howells's "A Foregone Conclusion," which Katy had never seen; then a
box of quinine pills; then a sachet for her trunk; then another
burlesque poem; last of all, a cake of delicious violet soap, "to wash
the sea-smell from her hands," the label said. It grew to be one of the
little excitements of ship life to watch for the arrival of these daily
gifts; and "What did the mail bring for you this time, Miss Carr?" was a
question frequently asked. Each arrival Katy thought must be the final
one; but Rose's forethought had gone so far even as to provide an extra
parcel in case the voyage was a day longer than usual, and "Miss Carr's
mail" continued to come in till the very last morning.

Katy never forgot the thrill that went through her when, after so many
days of sea, her eyes first caught sight of the dim line of the Irish
coast. An exciting and interesting day followed as, after stopping at
Queenstown to leave the mails, they sped northeastward between shores
which grew more distinct and beautiful with every hour,--on one side
Ireland, on the other the bold mountain lines of the Welsh coast. It was
late afternoon when they entered the Mersey, and dusk had fallen before
the Captain got out his glass to look for the white fluttering speck in
his own window which meant so much to him. Long he studied before he
made quite sure that it was there. At last he shut the glass with a
satisfied air.

"It's all right," he said to Katy, who stood near, almost as much
interested as he. "Lucy never forgets, bless her! Well, there's another
voyage over and done with, thank God, and my Mary is where she was. It's
a load taken from my mind."

The moon had risen and was shining softly on the river as the
crowded tender landed the passengers from the "Spartacus" at the
Liverpool docks.

"We shall meet again in London or in Paris," said one to another, and
cards and addresses were exchanged. Then after a brief delay at the
Custom House they separated, each to his own particular destination;
and, as a general thing, none of them ever saw any of the others again.
It is often thus with those who have been fellow voyagers at sea; and it
is always a surprise and perplexity to inexperienced travellers that it
can be so, and that those who have been so much to each other for ten
days can melt away into space and disappear as though the brief intimacy
had never existed.

"Four-wheeler or hansom, ma'am?" said a porter to Mrs. Ashe.

"Which, Katy?"

"Oh, let us have a hansom! I never saw one, and they look so nice
in 'Punch.'"

So a hansom cab was called, the two ladies got in, Amy cuddled down
between them, the folding-doors were shut over their knees like a
lap-robe, and away they drove up the solidly paved streets to the hotel
where they were to pass the night. It was too late to see or do anything
but enjoy the sense of being on firm land once more.

"How lovely it will be to sleep in a bed that doesn't tip or roll from
side to side!" said Mrs. Ashe.

"Yes, and that is wide enough and long enough and soft enough to be
comfortable!" replied Katy. "I feel as if I could sleep for a fortnight
to make up for the bad nights at sea."

Everything seemed delightful to her,--the space for undressing, the
great tub of fresh water which stood beside the English-looking
washstand with its ample basin and ewer, the chintz-curtained bed, the
coolness, the silence,--and she closed her eyes with the pleasant
thought in her mind, "It is really England and we are really here!"



CHAPTER V.

STORYBOOK ENGLAND.


"Oh, is it raining?" was Katy's first question next morning, when the
maid came to call her. The pretty room, with its gayly flowered chintz,
and china, and its brass bedstead, did not look half so bright as when
lit with gas the night before; and a dim gray light struggled in at the
window, which in America would certainly have meant bad weather coming
or already come.

"Oh no, h'indeed, ma'am, it's a very fine day,--not bright, ma'am, but
very dry," was the answer.

Katy couldn't imagine what the maid meant, when she peeped between the
curtains and saw a thick dull mist lying over everything, and the
pavements opposite her window shining with wet. Afterwards, when she
understood better the peculiarities of the English climate, she too
learned to call days not absolutely rainy "fine," and to be grateful for
them; but on that first morning her sensations were of bewildered
surprise, almost vexation.

Mrs. Ashe and Amy were waiting in the coffee-room when she went in
search of them.

"What shall we have for breakfast," asked Mrs. Ashe,--"our first meal in
England? Katy, you order it."

"Let's have all the things we have read about in books and don't have at
home," said Katy, eagerly. But when she came to look over the bill of
fare there didn't seem to be many such things. Soles and muffins she
finally decided upon, and, as an after-thought, gooseberry jam.

"Muffins sound so very good in Dickens, you know," she explained to Mrs.
Ashe; "and I never saw a sole."

The soles when they came proved to be nice little pan-fish, not unlike
what in New England are called "scup." All the party took kindly to
them; but the muffins were a great disappointment, tough and tasteless,
with a flavor about them as of scorched flannel.

"How queer and disagreeable they are!" said Katy. "I feel as if I were
eating rounds cut from an old ironing-blanket and buttered! Dear me!
what did Dickens mean by making such a fuss about them, I wonder? And I
don't care for gooseberry jam, either; it isn't half as good as the jams
we have at home. Books are very deceptive."

"I am afraid they are. We must make up our minds to find a great many
things not quite so nice as they sound when we read about them," replied
Mrs. Ashe.

Mabel was breakfasting with them, of course, and was heard to remark at
this juncture that she didn't like muffins, either, and would a great
deal rather have waffles; whereupon Amy reproved her, and explained that
nobody in England knew what waffles were, they were such a stupid
nation, and that Mabel must learn to eat whatever was given her and not
find fault with it!

After this moral lesson it was found to be dangerously near train-time;
and they all hurried to the railroad station, which, fortunately, was
close by. There was rather a scramble and confusion for a few moments;
for Katy, who had undertaken to buy the tickets, was puzzled by the
unaccustomed coinage; and Mrs. Ashe, whose part was to see after the
luggage, found herself perplexed and worried by the absence of checks,
and by no means disposed to accept the porter's statement, that if she'd
only bear in mind that the trunks were in the second van from the
engine, and get out to see that they were safe once or twice during the
journey, and call for them as soon as they reached London, she'd have no
trouble,--"please remember the porter, ma'am!" However all was happily
settled at last; and without any serious inconveniences they found
themselves established in a first-class carriage, and presently after
running smoothly at full speed across the rich English midlands toward
London and the eastern coast.

The extreme greenness of the October landscape was what struck them
first, and the wonderfully orderly and trim aspect of the country, with
no ragged, stump-dotted fields or reaches of wild untended woods. Late
in October as it was, the hedgerows and meadows were still almost
summer-like in color, though the trees were leafless. The
delightful-looking old manor-houses and farm-houses, of which they had
glimpses now and again, were a constant pleasure to Katy, with their
mullioned windows, twisted chimney-stacks, porches of quaint build, and
thick-growing ivy. She contrasted them with the uncompromising ugliness
of farm-houses which she remembered at home, and wondered whether it
could be that at the end of another thousand years or so, America would
have picturesque buildings like these to show in addition to her
picturesque scenery.

Suddenly into the midst of these reflections there glanced a picture so
vivid that it almost took away her breath, as the train steamed past a
pack of hounds in full cry, followed by a galloping throng of
scarlet-coated huntsmen. One horse and rider were in the air, going over
a wall. Another was just rising to the leap. A string of others, headed
by a lady, were tearing across a meadow bounded by a little brook, and
beyond that streamed the hounds following the invisible fox. It was like
one of Muybridge's instantaneous photographs of "The Horse in Motion,"
for the moment that it lasted; and Katy put it away in her memory,
distinct and brilliant, as she might a real picture.

Their destination in London was Batt's Hotel in Dover Street. The old
gentleman on the "Spartacus," who had "crossed" so many times, had
furnished Mrs. Ashe with a number of addresses of hotels and
lodging-houses, from among which Katy had chosen Batt's for the reason
that it was mentioned in Miss Edgeworth's "Patronage." "It was the
place," she explained, "where Godfrey Percy didn't stay when Lord
Oldborough sent him the letter." It seemed an odd enough reason for
going anywhere that a person in a novel didn't stay there. But Mrs. Ashe
knew nothing of London, and had no preference of her own; so she was
perfectly willing to give Katy hers, and Batt's was decided upon.

"It is just like a dream or a story," said Katy, as they drove away from
the London station in a four-wheeler. "It is really ourselves, and this
is really London! Can you imagine it?"

She looked out. Nothing met her eyes but dingy weather, muddy streets,
long rows of ordinary brick or stone houses. It might very well have
been New York or Boston on a foggy day, yet to her eyes all things had a
subtle difference which made them unlike similar objects at home.

"Wimpole Street!" she cried suddenly, as she caught sight of the name on
the corner; "that is the street where Maria Crawford in Mansfield Park,
you know, 'opened one of the best houses' after she married Mr.
Rushworth. Think of seeing Wimpole Street! What fun!" She looked eagerly
out after the "best houses," but the whole street looked uninteresting
and old-fashioned; the best house to be seen was not of a kind, Katy
thought, to reconcile an ambitious young woman to a dull husband. Katy
had to remind herself that Miss Austen wrote her novels nearly a century
ago, that London was a "growing" place, and that things were probably
much changed since that day.

More "fun" awaited them when they arrived at Batt's, and exactly such a
landlady sailed forth to welcome them as they had often met with in
books,--an old landlady, smiling and rubicund, with a towering lace cap
on her head, a flowered silk gown, a gold chain, and a pair of fat
mittened hands demurely crossed over a black brocade apron. She alone
would have been worth crossing the ocean to see, they all declared.
Their telegram had been received, and rooms were ready, with a bright,
smoky fire of soft coals; the dinner-table was set, and a nice, formal,
white-cravated old waiter, who seemed to have stepped out of the same
book with the landlady, was waiting to serve it. Everything was dingy
and old-fashioned, but very clean and comfortable; and Katy concluded
that on the whole Godfrey Percy would have done wisely to go to Batt's,
and could have fared no better at the other hotel where he did stay.

The first of Katy's "London sights" came to her next morning before she
was out of her bedroom. She heard a bell ring and a queer squeaking
little voice utter a speech of which she could not make out a single
word. Then came a laugh and a shout, as if several boys were amused at
something or other; and altogether her curiosity was roused, so that she
finished dressing as fast as she could, and ran to the drawing-room
window which commanded a view of the street. Quite a little crowd was
collected under the window, and in their midst was a queer box raised
high on poles, with little red curtains tied back on either side to form
a miniature stage, on which puppets were moving and vociferating. Katy
knew in a moment that she was seeing her first Punch and Judy!

The box and the crowd began to move away. Katy in despair ran to
Wilkins, the old waiter who was setting the breakfast-table.

"Oh, please stop that man!" she said. "I want to see him."

"What man is it, Miss?" said Wilkins.

When he reached the window and realized what Katy meant, his sense of
propriety seemed to receive a severe shock. He even ventured on
remonstrance.

"H'I wouldn't, Miss, h'if h'I was you. Them Punches are a low lot, Miss;
they h'ought to be put down, really they h'ought. Gentlefolks, h'as a
general thing, pays no h'attention to them."

But Katy didn't care what "gentlefolks" did or did not do, and insisted
upon having Punch called back. So Wilkins was forced to swallow his
remonstrances and his dignity, and go in pursuit of the objectionable
object. Amy came rushing out, with her hair flying and Mabel in her
arms; and she and Katy had a real treat of Punch and Judy, with all the
well-known scenes, and perhaps a few new ones thrown in for their
especial behoof; for the showman seemed to be inspired by the rapturous
enjoyment of his little audience of three at the first-floor windows.
Punch beat Judy and stole the baby, and Judy banged Punch in return, and
the constable came in and Punch outwitted him, and the hangman and the
devil made their appearance duly; and it was all perfectly satisfactory,
and "just exactly what she hoped it would be, and it quite made up for
the muffins," Katy declared.

Then, when Punch had gone away, the question arose as to what they
should choose, out of the many delightful things in London, for their
first morning.

Like ninety-nine Americans out of a hundred, they decided on Westminster
Abbey; and indeed there is nothing in England better worth seeing, or
more impressive, in its dim, rich antiquity, to eyes fresh from the
world which still calls itself "new." So to the Abbey they went, and
lingered there till Mrs. Ashe declared herself to be absolutely dropping
with fatigue.

"If you don't take me home and give me something to eat," she said, "I
shall drop down on one of these pedestals and stay there and be
exhibited forever after as an 'h'effigy' of somebody belonging to
ancient English history."

So Katy tore herself away from Henry the Seventh and the Poets' Corner,
and tore Amy away from a quaint little tomb shaped like a cradle, with
the marble image of a baby in it, which had greatly taken her fancy. She
could only be consoled by the promise that she should soon come again
and stay as long as she liked. She reminded Katy of this promise the
very next morning.

"Mamma has waked up with rather a bad headache, and she thinks she
will lie still and not come to breakfast," she reported. "And she
sends her love, and says will you please have a cab and go where you
like; and if I won't be a trouble, she would be glad if you would take
me with you. And I won't be a trouble, Miss Katy, and I know where I
wish you would go."

"Where is that!"

"To see that cunning little baby again that we saw yesterday. I want to
show her to Mabel,--she didn't go with us, you know, and I don't like to
have her mind not improved; and, darling Miss Katy, mayn't I buy some
flowers and put them on the Baby? She's so dusty and so old that I don't
believe anybody has put any flowers for her for ever so long."

Katy found this idea rather pretty, and willingly stopped at Covent
Garden, where they bought a bunch of late roses for eighteen pence,
which entirely satisfied Amy. With them in her hand, and Mabel in her
arms, she led the way through the dim aisles of the Abbey, through
grates and doors and up and down steps; the guide following, but not at
all needed, for Amy seemed to have a perfectly clear recollection of
every turn and winding. When the chapel was reached, she laid the roses
on the tomb with gentle fingers, and a pitiful, reverent look in her
gray eyes. Then she lifted Mabel up to kiss the odd little baby effigy
above the marble quilt; whereupon the guide seemed altogether surprised
out of his composure, and remarked to Katy,--

"Little Miss is an h'American, as is plain to see; no h'English child
would be likely to think of doing such a thing."

"Do not English children take any interest in the tombs of the Abbey?"
asked Katy.

"Oh yes, m'm,--h'interest; but they don't take no special notice of one
tomb above h'another."

Katy could scarcely keep from laughing, especially as she heard Amy, who
had been listening to the conversation, give an audible sniff, and
inform Mabel that she was glad _she_ was not an English child, who
didn't notice things and liked grown-up graves as much as she did dear
little cunning ones like this!

Later in the day, when Mrs. Ashe was better, they all drove together to
the quaint old keep which has been the scene of so many tragedies, and
is known as the Tower of London. Here they were shown various rooms and
chapels and prisons; and among the rest the apartments where Queen
Elizabeth, when a friendless young Princess, was shut up for many months
by her sister, Queen Mary. Katy had read somewhere, and now told Amy,
the pretty legend of the four little children who lived with their
parents in the Tower, and used to play with the royal captive; and how
one little boy brought her a key which he had picked up on the ground,
and said, "Now you can go out when you will, lady;" and how the Lords of
the Council, getting wind of it, sent for the children to question them,
and frightened them and their friends almost to death, and forbade them
to go near the Princess again.

A story about children always brings the past much nearer to a child,
and Amy's imagination was so excited by this tale, that when they got to
the darksome closet which is said to have been the prison of Sir Walter
Raleigh, she marched out of it with a pale and wrathful face.

"If this is English history, I never mean to learn any more of it, and
neither shall Mabel," she declared.

But it is not possible for Amy or any one else not to learn a great deal
of history simply by going about London. So many places are associated
with people or events, and seeing the places makes one care so much more
for the people or the events, that one insensibly questions and wonders.
Katy, who had "browsed" all through her childhood in a good
old-fashioned library, had her memory stuffed with all manner of little
scraps of information and literary allusions, which now came into use.
It was like owning the disjointed bits of a puzzle, and suddenly
discovering that properly put together they make a pattern. Mrs. Ashe,
who had never been much of a reader, considered her young friend a
prodigy of intelligence; but Katy herself realized how inadequate and
inexact her knowledge was, and how many bits were missing from the
pattern of her puzzle. She wished with all her heart, as every one
wishes under such circumstances, that she had studied harder and more
wisely while the chance was in her power. On a journey you cannot read
to advantage. Remember that, dear girls, who are looking forward to
travelling some day, and be industrious in time.

October is not a favorable month in which to see England. Water, water
is everywhere; you breathe it, you absorb it; it wets your clothes and
it dampens your spirits. Mrs. Ashe's friends advised her not to think of
Scotland at that time of the year. One by one their little intended
excursions were given up. A single day and night in Oxford and
Stratford-on-Avon; a short visit to the Isle of Wight, where, in a
country-place which seemed provokingly pretty as far as they could see
it for the rain, lived that friend of Mrs. Ashe who had married an
Englishman and in so doing had, as Katy privately thought, "renounced
the sun;" a peep at Stonehenge from under the shelter of an umbrella,
and an hour or two in Salisbury Cathedral,--was all that they
accomplished, except a brief halt at Winchester, that Katy might have
the privilege of seeing the grave of her beloved Miss Austen. Katy had
come abroad with a terribly long list of graves to visit, Mrs. Ashe
declared. They laid a few rain-washed flowers upon the tomb, and
listened with edification to the verger, who inquired,--

"Whatever was it, ma'am, that lady did which brings so many h'Americans
to h'ask about her? Our h'English people don't seem to take the same
h'interest."

"She wrote such delightful stories," explained Katy; but the old verger
shook his head.

"I think h'it must be some other party, Miss, you've confused with this
here. It stands to reason, Miss, that we'd have heard of 'em h'over 'ere
in England sooner than you would h'over there in h'America, if the books
'ad been h'anything so h'extraordinary."

The night after their return to London they were dining for the second
time with the cousins of whom Mrs. Ashe had spoken to Dr. Carr; and as
it happened Katy sat next to a quaint elderly American, who had lived
for twenty years in London and knew it much better than most Londoners
do. This gentleman, Mr. Allen Beach, had a hobby for antiquities, old
books especially, and passed half his time at the British Museum, and
the other half in sales rooms and the old shops in Wardour Street.

Katy was lamenting over the bad weather which stood in the way of
their plans.

"It is so vexatious," she said. "Mrs. Ashe meant to go to York and
Lincoln and all the cathedral towns and to Scotland; and we have had to
give it all up because of the rains. We shall go away having seen hardly
anything."

"You can see London."

"We have,--that is, we have seen the things that everybody sees."

"But there are so many things that people in general do not see. How
much longer are you to stay, Miss Carr?"

"A week, I believe."

"Why don't you make out a list of old buildings which are connected with
famous people in history, and visit them in turn? I did that the second
year after I came. I gave up three months to it, and it was most
interesting. I unearthed all manner of curious stories and traditions."

"Or," cried Katy, struck with a sudden bright thought, "why mightn't
I put into the list some of the places I know about in books,--novels
as well as history,--and the places where the people who wrote the
books lived?"

"You might do that, and it wouldn't be a bad idea, either," said Mr.
Beach, pleased with her enthusiasm. "I will get a pencil after dinner
and help you with your list if you will allow me."

Mr. Beach was better than his word. He not only suggested places and
traced a plan of sight-seeing, but on two different mornings he went
with them himself; and his intelligent knowledge of London added very
much to the interest of the excursions. Under his guidance the little
party of four--for Mabel was never left out; it was _such_ a chance for
her to improve her mind, Amy declared--visited the Charter-House, where
Thackeray went to school, and the Home of the Poor Brothers connected
with it, in which Colonel Newcome answered "Adsum" to the roll-call of
the angels. They took a look at the small house in Curzon Street, which
is supposed to have been in Thackeray's mind when he described the
residence of Becky Sharpe; and the other house in Russell Square which
is unmistakably that where George Osborne courted Amelia Sedley. They
went to service in the delightful old church of St. Mary in the Temple,
and thought of Ivanhoe and Brian de Bois-Guilbert and Rebecca the
Jewess. From there Mr. Beach took them to Lamb's Court, where Pendennis
and George Warrington dwelt in chambers together; and to Brick Court,
where Oliver Goldsmith passed so much of his life, and the little rooms
in which Charles and Mary Lamb spent so many sadly happy years. On
another day they drove to Whitefriars, for the sake of Lord Glenvarloch
and the old privilege of Sanctuary in the "Fortunes of Nigel;" and took
a peep at Bethnal Green, where the Blind Beggar and his "Pretty Bessee"
lived, and at the old Prison of the Marshalsea, made interesting by its
associations with "Little Dorrit." They also went to see Milton's house
and St. Giles Church, in which he is buried; and stood a long time
before St. James Palace, trying to make out which could have been Miss
Burney's windows when she was dresser to Queen Charlotte of bitter
memory. And they saw Paternoster Row and No. 5 Cheyne Walk, sacred
forevermore to the memory of Thomas Carlyle, and Whitehall, where Queen
Elizabeth lay in state and King Charles was beheaded, and the state
rooms of Holland House; and by great good luck had a glimpse of George
Eliot getting out of a cab. She stood for a moment while she gave her
fare to the cabman, and Katy looked as one who might not look again, and
carried away a distinct picture of the unbeautiful, interesting,
remarkable face.

With all this to see and to do, the last week sped all too swiftly, and
the last day came before they were at all ready to leave what Katy
called "Story-book England." Mrs. Ashe had decided to cross by Newhaven
and Dieppe, because some one had told her of the beautiful old town of
Rouen, and it seemed easy and convenient to take it on the way to Paris.
Just landed from the long voyage across the Atlantic, the little passage
of the Channel seemed nothing to our travellers, and they made ready for
their night on the Dieppe steamer with the philosophy which is born of
ignorance. They were speedily undeceived!

The English Channel has a character of its own, which distinguishes it
from other seas and straits. It seems made fractious and difficult by
Nature, and set as on purpose to be barrier between two nations who are
too unlike to easily understand each other, and are the safer neighbors
for this wholesome difficulty of communication between them. The "chop"
was worse than usual on the night when our travellers crossed; the
steamer had to fight her way inch by inch. And oh, such a little
steamer! and oh, such a long night!



CHAPTER VI.

ACROSS THE CHANNEL.


Dawn had given place to day, and day was well advanced toward noon,
before the stout little steamer gained her port. It was hours after
the usual time for arrival; the train for Paris must long since have
started, and Katy felt dejected and forlorn as, making her way out of
the terrible ladies'-cabin, she crept on deck for her first glimpse
of France.

The sun was struggling through the fog with a watery smile, and his
faint beams shone on a confusion of stone piers, higher than the
vessel's deck, intersected with canal-like waterways, through whose
intricate windings the steamer was slowly threading her course to the
landing-place. Looking up, Katy could see crowds of people assembled to
watch the boat come in,--workmen, peasants, women, children, soldiers,
custom-house officers, moving to and fro,--and all this crowd were
talking all at once and all were talking French!

I don't know why this should have startled her as it did. She knew, of
course, that people of different countries were liable to be found
speaking their own languages; but somehow the spectacle of the
chattering multitude, all seeming so perfectly at ease with their
preterits and subjunctives and never once having to refer to Ollendorf
or a dictionary, filled her with a sense of dismayed surprise.

"Good gracious!" she said to herself, "even the babies understand it!"
She racked her brains to recall what she had once known of French, but
very little seemed to have survived the horrors of the night!

"Oh dear! what is the word for trunk-key?" she asked herself. "They will
all begin to ask questions, and I shall not have a word to say; and Mrs.
Ashe will be even worse off, I know." She saw the red-trousered
custom-house officers pounce upon the passengers as they landed one by
one, and she felt her heart sink within her.

But after all, when the time came it did not prove so very bad. Katy's
pleasant looks and courteous manner stood her in good stead. She did not
trust herself to say much; but the officials seemed to understand
without saying. They bowed and gestured, whisked the keys in and out,
and in a surprisingly short time all was pronounced right, the baggage
had "passed," and it and its owners were free to proceed to the
railway-station, which fortunately was close at hand.

Inquiry revealed the fact that no train for Paris left till four in the
afternoon.

"I am rather glad," declared poor Mrs. Ashe, "for I feel too used up to
move. I will lie here on this sofa; and, Katy dear, please see if there
is an eating-place, and get some breakfast for yourself and Amy, and
send me a cup of tea."

"I don't like to leave you alone," Katy was beginning; but at that
moment a nice old woman who seemed to be in charge of the waiting-room
appeared, and with a flood of French which none of them could follow,
but which was evidently sympathetic in its nature, flew at Mrs. Ashe and
began to make her comfortable. From a cupboard in the wall she produced
a pillow, from another cupboard a blanket; in a trice she had one under
Mrs. Ashe's head and the other wrapped round her feet.

"Pauvre madame," she said, "si pâle! si souffrante! Il faut avoir
quelque chose à boire et à manger tout de suite." She trotted across the
room and into the restaurant which opened out of it, while Mrs. Ashe
smiled at Katy and said, "You see you can leave me quite safely; I am to
be taken care of." And Katy and Amy passed through the same door into
the _buffet_, and sat down at a little table.

It was a particularly pleasant-looking place to breakfast in. There were
many windows with bright polished panes and very clean short muslin
curtains, and on the window-sills stood rows of thrifty potted plants in
full bloom,--marigolds, balsams, nasturtiums, and many colored
geraniums. Two birds in cages were singing loudly; the floor was waxed
to a glass-like polish; nothing could have been whiter than the marble
of the tables except the napkins laid over them. And such a good
breakfast as was presently brought to them,--delicious coffee in
bowl-like cups, crisp rolls and rusks, an omelette with a delicate
flavor of fine herbs, stewed chicken, little pats of freshly churned
butter without salt, shaped like shells and tasting like solidified
cream, and a pot of some sort of nice preserve. Amy made great delighted
eyes at Katy, and remarking, "I think France is heaps nicer than that
old England," began to eat with a will; and Katy herself felt that if
this railroad meal was a specimen of what they had to expect in the
future, they had indeed come to a land of plenty.

Fortified with the satisfactory breakfast, she felt equal to a walk; and
after they had made sure that Mrs. Ashe had all she needed, she and Amy
(and Mabel) set off by themselves to see the sights of Dieppe. I don't
know that travellers generally have considered Dieppe an interesting
place, but Katy found it so. There was a really old church and some
quaint buildings of the style of two centuries back, and even the more
modern streets had a novel look to her unaccustomed eyes. At first they
only ventured a timid turn or two, marking each corner, and going back
now and then to reassure themselves by a look at the station; but after
a while, growing bolder, Katy ventured to ask a question or two in
French, and was surprised and charmed to find herself understood. After
that she grew adventurous, and, no longer fearful of being lost, led Amy
straight down a long street lined with shops, almost all of which were
for the sale of articles in ivory.

Ivory wares are one of the chief industries of Dieppe. There were cases
full, windows full, counters full, of the most exquisite combs and
brushes, some with elaborate monograms in silver and colors, others
plain; there were boxes and caskets of every size and shape, ornaments,
fans, parasol handles, looking-glasses, frames for pictures large and
small, napkin-rings.

Katy was particularly smitten with a paper-knife in the form of an angel
with long slender wings raised over its head and meeting to form a
point. Its price was twenty francs, and she was strongly tempted to buy
it for Clover or Rose Red. But she said to herself sensibly, "This is
the first shop I have been into and the first thing I have really wanted
to buy, and very likely as we go on I shall see things I like better and
want more, so it would be foolish to do it. No, I won't." And she
resolutely turned her back on the ivory angel, and walked away.

The next turn brought them to a gay-looking little market-place, where
old women in white caps were sitting on the ground beside baskets and
panniers full of apples, pears, and various queer and curly vegetables,
none of which Katy recognized as familiar; fish of all shapes and colors
were flapping in shallow tubs of sea-water; there were piles of
stockings, muffetees, and comforters in vivid blue and red worsted, and
coarse pottery glazed in bright patterns. The faces of the women were
brown and wrinkled; there were no pretty ones among them, but their
black eyes were full of life and quickness, and their fingers one and
all clicked with knitting-needles, as their tongues flew equally fast in
the chatter and the chaffer, which went on without stop or stay, though
customers did not seem to be many and sales were few.

Returning to the station they found that Mrs. Ashe had been asleep
during their absence, and seemed so much better that it was with greatly
amended spirits that they took their places in the late afternoon train
which was to set them down at Rouen. Katy said they were like the Wise
Men of the East, "following a star," in their choice of a hotel; for,
having no better advice, they had decided upon one of those thus
distinguished in Baedeker's Guide-book.

The star did not betray their confidence; for the Hôtel de la Cloche, to
which it led them, proved to be quaint and old, and very pleasant of
aspect. The lofty chambers, with their dimly frescoed ceilings, and beds
curtained with faded patch, might to all appearances have been furnished
about the time when "Columbus crossed the ocean blue;" but everything
was clean, and had an air of old-time respectability. The dining-room,
which was evidently of more modern build, opened into a square courtyard
where oleanders and lemon trees in boxes stood round the basin of a
little fountain, whose tinkle and plash blended agreeably with the
rattle of the knives and forks. In one corner of the room was a raised
and railed platform, where behind a desk sat the mistress of the house,
busy with her account-books, but keeping an eye the while on all that
went forward.

Mrs. Ashe walked past this personage without taking any notice of her,
as Americans are wont to do under such circumstances; but presently the
observant Katy noticed that every one else, as they went in or out of
the room, addressed a bow or a civil remark to this lady. She quite
blushed at the recollection afterward, as she made ready for bed.

"How rude we must have seemed!" she thought. "I am afraid the people
here think that Americans have _awful_ manners, everybody is so polite.
They said 'Bon soir' and 'Merci' and 'Voulez-vous avoir la bonté,' to
the waiters even! Well, there is one thing,--I am going to reform.
To-morrow I will be as polite as anybody. They will think that I am
miraculously improved by one night on French soil; but, never mind! I am
going to do it."

She kept her resolution, and astonished Mrs. Ashe next morning, by
bowing to the dame on the platform in the most winning manner, and
saying, "Bon jour, madame," as they went by.

"But, Katy, who is that person? Why do you speak to her?"

"Don't you see that they all do? She is the landlady, I think; at all
events, everybody bows to her. And just notice how prettily these ladies
at the next table speak to the waiter. They do not order him to do
things as we do at home. I noticed it last night, and I liked it so much
that I made a resolution to get up and be as polite as the French
themselves this morning."

So all the time that they went about the sumptuous old city, rich in
carvings and sculptures and traditions, while they were looking at the
Cathedral and the wonderful church of St. Ouen, and the Palace of
Justice, and the "Place of the Maid," where poor Jeanne d'Arc was burned
and her ashes scattered to the winds, Katy remembered her manners, and
smiled and bowed, and used courteous prefixes in a soft pleasant voice;
and as Mrs. Ashe and Amy fell in with her example more or less, I think
the guides and coachmen and the old women who showed them over the
buildings felt that the air of France was very civilizing indeed, and
that these strangers from savage countries over the sea were in a fair
way to be as well bred as if they had been born in a more favored part
of the world!

Paris looked very modern after the peculiar quaint richness and air of
the Middle Ages which distinguish Rouen. Rooms had been engaged for
Mrs. Ashe's party in a _pension_ near the Arc d'Étoile, and there they
drove immediately on arriving. The rooms were not in the _pension_
itself, but in a house close by,--a sitting-room with six mirrors,
three clocks, and a pinched little grate about a foot wide, a
dining-room just large enough for a table and four chairs, and two
bedrooms. A maid called Amandine had been detailed to take charge of
these rooms and serve their meals.

Dampness, as Katy afterward wrote to Clover, was the first impression
they received of "gay Paris." The tiny fire in the tiny grate had only
just been lighted, and the walls and the sheets and even the blankets
felt chilly and moist to the touch. They spent their first evening in
hanging the bedclothes round the grate and piling on fuel; they even set
the mattresses up on edge to warm and dry! It was not very enlivening,
it must be confessed. Amy had taken a cold, Mrs. Ashe looked worried,
and Katy thought of Burnet and the safety and comfort of home with a
throb of longing.

The days that ensued were not brilliant enough to remove this
impression. The November fogs seemed to have followed them across the
Channel, and Paris remained enveloped in a wet blanket which dimmed and
hid its usually brilliant features. Going about in cabs with the windows
drawn up, and now and then making a rush through the drip into shops,
was not exactly delightful, but it seemed pretty much all that they
could do. It was worse for Amy, whose cold kept her indoors and denied
her even the relaxation of the cab. Mrs. Ashe had engaged a
well-recommended elderly English maid to come every morning and take
care of Amy while they were out; and with this respectable functionary,
whose ideas were of a rigidly British type and who did not speak a word
of any language but her own, poor Amy was compelled to spend most of her
time. Her only consolation was in persuading this serene attendant to
take a part in the French lessons which she made a daily point of giving
to Mabel out of her own little phrase-book.

"Wilkins is getting on, I think," she told Katy one night. "She says
'Biscuit glacé' quite nicely now. But I never will let her look at the
book, though she always wants to; for if once she saw how the words are
spelled, she would never in the world pronounce them right again. They
look so very different, you know."

Katy looked at Amy's pale little face and eager eyes with a real
heartache. Her rapture when at the end of the long dull afternoons her
mother returned to her was touching. Paris was very _triste_ to poor
Amy, with all her happy facility for amusing herself; and Katy felt that
the sooner they got away from it the better it would be. So, in spite of
the delight which her brief glimpses at the Louvre gave her, and the fun
it was to go about with Mrs. Ashe and see her buy pretty things, and the
real satisfaction she took in the one perfectly made walking-suit to
which she had treated herself, she was glad when the final day came,
when the belated dressmakers and artistes in jackets and wraps had sent
home their last wares, and the trunks were packed. It had been rather
the fault of circumstances than of Paris; but Katy had not learned to
love the beautiful capital as most Americans do, and did not feel at all
as if she wanted that her "reward of virtue" should be to go there when
she died! There must be more interesting places for live people, and
ghosts too, to be found on the map of Europe, she was sure.

Next morning as they drove slowly down the Champs Élysées, and
looked back for a last glimpse of the famous Arch, a bright object
met their eyes, moving vaguely against the mist. It was the gay red
wagon of the Bon Marché, carrying bundles home to the dwellers of
some up-town street.

Katy burst out laughing. "It is an emblem of Paris," she said,--"of our
Paris, I mean. It has been all Bon Marché and fog!"

"Miss Katy," interrupted Amy, "_do_ you like Europe? For my part, I was
never so disgusted with any place in my life!"

"Poor little bird, her views of 'Europe' are rather dark just now, and
no wonder," said her mother. "Never mind, darling, you shall have
something pleasanter by and by if I can find it for you."

"Burnet is a great deal pleasanter than Paris," pronounced Amy,
decidedly. "It doesn't keep always raining there, and I can take walks,
and I understand everything that people say."

All that day they sped southward, and with every hour came a change in
the aspect of their surroundings. Now they made brief stops in large
busy towns which seemed humming with industry. Now they whirled through
grape countries with miles of vineyards, where the brown leaves still
hung on the vines. Then again came glimpses of old Roman ruins,
amphitheatres, viaducts, fragments of wall or arch; or a sudden chill
betokened their approach to mountains, where snowy peaks could be seen
on the far horizon. And when the long night ended and day roused them
from broken slumbers, behold, the world was made over! Autumn had
vanished, and the summer, which they thought fled for good, had taken
his place. Green woods waved about them, fresh leaves were blowing in
the wind, roses and hollyhocks beckoned from white-walled gardens; and
before they had done with exclaiming and rejoicing, the Mediterranean
shot into view, intensely blue, with white fringes of foam, white sails
blowing across, white gulls flying above it, and over all a sky of the
same exquisite blue, whose clouds were white as the drifting sails on
the water below, and they were at Marseilles.

It was like a glimpse of Paradise to eyes fresh from autumnal grays and
glooms, as they sped along the lovely coast, every curve and turn
showing new combinations of sea and shore, olive-crowned cliff and
shining mountain-peak. With every mile the blue became bluer, the wind
softer, the feathery verdure more dense and summer-like. Hyères and
Cannes and Antibes were passed, and then, as they rounded a long point,
came the view of a sunshiny city lying on a sunlit shore; the train
slackened its speed, and they knew that their journey's end was come and
they were in Nice.

The place seemed to laugh with gayety as they drove down the Promenade
des Anglais and past the English garden, where the band was playing
beneath the acacias and palm-trees. On one side was a line of
bright-windowed hotels and _pensions_, with balconies and striped
awnings; on the other, the long reach of yellow sand-beach, where ladies
were grouped on shawls and rugs, and children ran up and down in the
sun, while beyond stretched the waveless sea. The December sun felt as
warm as on a late June day at home, and had the same soft caressing
touch. The pavements were thronged with groups of leisurely-looking
people, all wearing an unmistakable holiday aspect; pretty girls in
correct Parisian costumes walked demurely beside their mothers, with
cavaliers in attendance; and among these young men appeared now and
again the well-known uniform of the United States Navy.

"I wonder," said Mrs. Ashe, struck by a sudden thought, "if by any
chance our squadron is here." She asked the question the moment they
entered the hotel; and the porter, who prided himself on understanding
"zose Eenglesh," replied,--

"Mais oui, Madame, ze Americaine fleet it is here; zat is, not here,
but at Villefranche, just a leetle four mile away,--it is ze same
zing exactly."

"Katy, do you hear that?" cried Mrs. Ashe. "The frigates _are_ here, and
the 'Natchitoches' among them of course; and we shall have Ned to go
about with us everywhere. It is a real piece of good luck for us. Ladies
are at such a loss in a place like this with nobody to escort them. I am
perfectly delighted."

"So am I," said Katy. "I never saw a frigate, and I always wanted to see
one. Do you suppose they will let us go on board of them?"

"Why, of course they will." Then to the porter, "Give me a sheet
of paper and an envelope, please.--I must let Ned know that I am
here at once."

Mrs. Ashe wrote her note and despatched it before they went upstairs to
take off their bonnets. She seemed to have a half-hope that some bird of
the air might carry the news of her arrival to her brother, for she kept
running to the window as if in expectation of seeing him. She was too
restless to lie down or sleep, and after she and Katy had lunched,
proposed that they should go out on the beach for a while.

"Perhaps we may come across Ned," she remarked.

They did not come across Ned, but there was no lack of other
delightful objects to engage their attention. The sands were smooth
and hard as a floor. Soft pink lights were beginning to tinge the
western sky. To the north shone the peaks of the maritime Alps, and
the same rosy glow caught them here and there, and warmed their grays
and whites into color.

"I wonder what that can be?" said Katy, indicating the rocky point which
bounded the beach to the east, where stood a picturesque building of
stone, with massive towers and steep pitches of roof. "It looks half
like a house and half like a castle, but it is quite fascinating, I
think. Do you suppose that people live there?"

"We might ask," suggested Mrs. Ashe.

Just then they came to a shallow river spanned by a bridge, beside whose
pebbly bed stood a number of women who seemed to be washing clothes by
the simple and primitive process of laying them in the water on top of
the stones, and pounding them with a flat wooden paddle till they were
white. Katy privately thought that the clothes stood a poor chance of
lasting through these cleansing operations; but she did not say so, and
made the inquiry which Mrs. Ashe had suggested, in her best French.

"Celle-là?" answered the old woman whom she had addressed. "Mais c'est
la Pension Suisse."

"A _pension_; why, that means a boarding-house," cried Katy. "What fun
it must be to board there!"

"Well, why shouldn't we board there!" said her friend. "You know we
meant to look for rooms as soon as we were rested and had found out a
little about the place. Let us walk on and see what the Pension Suisse
is like. If the inside is as pleasant as the outside, we could not do
better, I should think."

"Oh, I do hope all the rooms are not already taken," said Katy, who had
fallen in love at first sight with the Pension Suisse. She felt quite
oppressed with anxiety as they rang the bell.

The Pension Suisse proved to be quite as charming inside as out. The
thick stone walls made deep sills and embrasures for the casement
windows, which were furnished with red cushions to serve as seats and
lounging-places. Every window seemed to command a view, for those which
did not look toward the sea looked toward the mountains. The house was
by no means full, either. Several sets of rooms were to be had; and Katy
felt as if she had walked straight into the pages of a romance When Mrs.
Ashe engaged for a month a delightful suite of three, a sitting-room and
two sleeping-chambers, in a round tower, with a balcony overhanging the
water, and a side window, from which a flight of steps led down into a
little walled garden, nestled in among the masonry, where tall
laurestinus and lemon trees grew, and orange and brown wallflowers made
the air sweet. Her contentment knew no bounds.

"I am so glad that I came," she told Mrs. Ashe. "I never confessed it to
you before; but sometimes.--when we were sick at sea, you know, and when
it would rain all the time, and after Amy caught that cold in Paris--I
have almost wished, just for a minute or two at a time, that we hadn't.
But now I wouldn't not have come for the world! This is perfectly
delicious. I am glad, glad, glad we are here, and we are going to have a
lovely time, I know."

They were passing out of the rooms into the hall as she said these
words, and two ladies who were walking up a cross passage turned their
heads at the sound of her voice. To her great surprise Katy recognized
Mrs. Page and Lilly.

"Why, Cousin Olivia, is it you?" she cried, springing forward with
the cordiality one naturally feels in seeing a familiar face in a
foreign land.

Mrs. Page seemed rather puzzled than cordial. She put up her eyeglass
and did not seem to quite make out who Katy was.

"It is Katy Carr, mamma," explained Lilly. "Well, Katy, this _is_ a
surprise! Who would have thought of meeting you in Nice!"

There was a decided absence of rapture in Lilly's manner. She was
prettier than ever, as Katy saw in a moment, and beautifully dressed in
soft brown velvet, which exactly suited her complexion and her
pale-colored wavy hair.

"Katy Carr! why, so it is," admitted Mrs. Page. "It is a surprise
indeed. We had no idea that you were abroad. What has brought you so far
from Tunket,--Burnet, I mean? Who are you with?"

"With my friend Mrs. Ashe," explained Katy, rather chilled by this cool
reception.

"Let me introduce you. Mrs. Ashe, these are my cousins Mrs. Page and
Miss Page. Amy,--why where is Amy?"

Amy had walked back to the door of the garden staircase, and was
standing there looking down upon the flowers.

Cousin Olivia bowed rather distantly. Her quick eye took in the details
of Mrs. Ashe's travelling-dress and Katy's dark blue ulster.

"Some countrified friend from that dreadful Western town where they
live," she said to herself. "How foolish of Philip Carr to try to send
his girls to Europe! He can't afford it, I know." Her voice was rather
rigid as she inquired,--

"And what brings you here?--to this house, I mean?"

"Oh, we are coming to-morrow to stay; we have taken rooms for a month,"
explained Katy. "What a delicious-looking old place it is."

"Have you?" said Lilly, in a voice which did not express any particular
pleasure. "Why, we are staying here too."



CHAPTER VII.

THE PENSION SUISSE.


"What do you suppose can have brought Katy Carr to Europe?" inquired
Lilly, as she stood in the window watching the three figures walk slowly
down the sands. "She is the last person I expected to turn up here. I
supposed she was stuck in that horrid place--what is the name of
it?--where they live, for the rest of her life."

"I confess I am surprised at meeting her myself," rejoined Mrs. Page. "I
had no idea that her father could afford so expensive a journey."

"And who is this woman that she has got along with her?"

"I have no idea, I'm sure. Some Western friend, I suppose."

"Dear me, I wish they were going to some other house than this," said
Lilly, discontentedly. "If they were at the Rivoir, for instance, or one
of those places at the far end of the beach, we shouldn't need to see
anything of them, or even know that they were in town! It's a real
nuisance to have people spring upon you this way, people you don't want
to meet; and when they happen to be relations it is all the worse. Katy
will be hanging on us all the time, I'm afraid."

"Oh, my dear, there is no fear of that. A little repression on our part
will prevent her from being any trouble, I'm quite certain. But we
_must_ treat her politely, you know, Lilly; her father is my cousin."

"That's the saddest part of it! Well, there's one thing, I shall _not_
take her with me every time we go to the frigates," said Lilly,
decisively. "I am not going to inflict a country cousin on Lieutenant
Worthington, and spoil all my own fun beside. So I give you fair
warning, mamma, and you must manage it somehow."

"Certainly, dear, I will. It would be a great pity to have your visit to
Nice spoiled in any way, with the squadron here too, and that pleasant
Mr. Worthington so very attentive."

Unconscious of these plans for her suppression, Katy walked back to the
hotel in a mood of pensive pleasure. Europe at last promised to be as
delightful as it had seemed when she only knew it from maps and books,
and Nice so far appeared to her the most charming place in the world.

Somebody was waiting for them at the Hotel des Anglais,--a tall,
bronzed, good-looking somebody in uniform, with pleasant brown eyes
beaming from beneath a gold-banded cap; at the sight of whom Amy rushed
forward with her long locks flying, and Mrs. Ashe uttered an exclamation
of pleasure. It was Ned Worthington, Mrs. Ashe's only brother, whom she
had not met for two years and a half; and you can easily imagine how
glad she was to see him.

"You got my note then?" she said after the first eager greetings were
over and she had introduced him to Katy.

"Note? No. Did you write me a note?"

"Yes; to Villefranche."

"To the ship? I shan't get that till tomorrow. No; finding out that you
were here is just a bit of good fortune. I came over to call on some
friends who are staying down the beach a little way, and dropping in to
look over the list of arrivals, as I generally do, I saw your names; and
the porter not being able to say which way you had gone, I waited for
you to come in."

"We have been looking at such a delightful old place, the Pension
Suisse, and have taken rooms."

"The Pension Suisse, eh? Why, that was where I was going to call. I know
some people who are staying there. It seems a pleasant house; I'm glad
you are going there, Polly. It's first-rate luck that the ships happen
to be here just now. I can see you every day."

"But, Ned, surely you are not leaving me so soon? Surely you will stay
and dine with us?" urged his sister, as he took up his cap.

"I wish I could, but I can't to-night, Polly. You see I had engaged to
take some ladies out to drive, and they will expect me. I had no idea
that you would be here, or I should have kept myself free,"
apologetically. "Tomorrow I will come over early, and be at your service
for whatever you like to do."

"That's right, dear boy. We shall expect you." Then, the moment he was
gone, "Now, Katy, isn't he nice?"

"Very nice, I should think," said Katy, who had watched the brief
interview with interest. "I like his face so much, and how fond he
is of you!"

"Dear fellow! so he is. I am seven years older than he, but we have
always been intimate. Brothers and sisters are not always intimate, you
know,--or perhaps you don't know, for all of yours are."

"Yes, indeed," said Katy, with a happy smile. "There is nobody like
Clover and Elsie, except perhaps Johnnie and Dorry and Phil," she added
with a laugh.

The remove to the Pension Suisse was made early the next morning. Mrs.
Page and Lilly did not appear to welcome them. Katy rather rejoiced in
their absence, for she wanted the chance to get into order without
interruptions.

There was something comfortable in the thought that they were to stay a
whole month in these new quarters; for so long a time, it seemed worth
while to make them pretty and homelike. So, while Mrs. Ashe unpacked her
own belongings and Amy's, Katy, who had a natural turn for arranging
rooms, took possession of the little parlor, pulled the furniture into
new positions, laid out portfolios and work-cases and their few books,
pinned various photographs which they had bought in Oxford and London on
the walls, and tied back the curtains to admit the sunshine. Then she
paid a visit to the little garden, and came back with a long branch of
laurestinus, which she trained across the mantelpiece, and a bunch of
wallflowers for their one little vase. The maid, by her orders, laid a
fire of wood and pine cones ready for lighting; and when all was done
she called Mrs. Ashe to pronounce upon the effect.

"It is lovely," she said, sinking into a great velvet arm-chair which
Katy had drawn close to the seaward window. "I haven't seen anything so
pleasant since we left home. You are a witch, Katy, and the comfort of
my life. I am so glad I brought you! Now, pray go and unpack your own
things, and make yourself look nice for the second breakfast. We have
been a shabby set enough since we arrived. I saw those cousins of yours
looking askance at our old travelling-dresses yesterday. Let us try to
make a more respectable impression to-day."

So they went down to breakfast, Mrs. Ashe in one of her new Paris gowns,
Katy in a pretty dress of olive serge, and Amy all smiles and ruffled
pinafore, walking hand in hand with her uncle Ned, who had just arrived
and whose great ally she was; and Mrs. Page and Lilly, who were already
seated at table, had much ado to conceal their somewhat unflattering
surprise at the conjunction. For one moment Lilly's eyes opened into a
wide stare of incredulous astonishment; then she remembered herself,
nodded as pleasantly as she could to Mrs. Ashe and Katy, and favored
Lieutenant Worthington with a pretty blushing smile as he went by, while
she murmured,--

"Mamma, do you see that? What does it mean?"

"Why, Ned, do you know those people?" asked Mrs. Ashe at the same
moment.

"Do _you_ know them!"

"Yes; we met yesterday. They are connections of my friend Miss Carr."

"Really? There is not the least family likeness between them." And Mr.
Worthington's eyes travelled deliberately from Lilly's delicate, golden
prettiness to Katy, who, truth to say, did not shine by the contrast.

"She has a nice, sensible sort of face," he thought, "and she looks like
a lady, but for beauty there is no comparison between the two." Then he
turned to listen to his sister as she replied,--

"No, indeed, not the least; no two girls could be less like." Mrs. Ashe
had made the same comparison, but with quite a different result. Katy's
face was grown dear to her, and she had not taken the smallest fancy to
Lilly Page.

Her relationship to the young naval officer, however, made a wonderful
difference in the attitude of Mrs. Page and Lilly toward the party. Katy
became a person to be cultivated rather than repressed, and
thenceforward there was no lack of cordiality on their part.

"I want to come in and have a good talk," said Lilly, slipping her arm
through Katy's as they left the dining-room. "Mayn't I come now while
mamma is calling on Mrs. Ashe?" This arrangement brought her to the side
of Lieutenant Worthington, and she walked between him and Katy down the
hall and into the little drawing-room.

"Oh, how perfectly charming! You have been fixing up ever since you
came, haven't you? It looks like home. I wish we had a _salon_, but
mamma thought it wasn't worth while, as we were only to be here such a
little time. What a delicious balcony over the water, too! May I go out
on it? Oh, Mr. Worthington, do see this!"

She pushed open the half-closed window and stepped out as she spoke. Mr.
Worthington, after hesitating a moment, followed. Katy paused uncertain.
There was hardly room for three in the balcony, yet she did not quite
like to leave them. But Lilly had turned her back, and was talking in a
low tone; it was nothing more in reality than the lightest chit-chat,
but it had the air of being something confidential; so Katy, after
waiting a little while, retreated to the sofa, and took up her work,
joining now and then in the conversation which Mrs. Ashe was keeping up
with Cousin Olivia. She did not mind Lilly's ill-breeding, nor was she
surprised at it. Mrs. Ashe was less tolerant.

"Isn't it rather damp out there, Ned?" she called to her brother; "you
had better throw my shawl round Miss Page's shoulders."

"Oh, it isn't a bit damp," said Lilly, recalled to herself by this broad
hint. "Thank you so much for thinking of it, Mrs. Ashe, but I am just
coming in." She seated herself beside Katy, and began to question her
rather languidly.

"When did you leave home, and how were they all when you came away?"

"All well, thank you. We sailed from Boston on the 14th of October; and
before that I spent two days with Rose Red,--you remember her? She is
married now, and has the dearest little home and such a darling baby."

"Yes, I heard of her marriage. It didn't seem much of a match for Mr.
Redding's daughter to make, did it? I never supposed she would be
satisfied with anything less than a member of Congress or a Secretary of
Legation."

"Rose isn't particularly ambitious, I think, and she seems perfectly
happy," replied Katy, flushing.

"Oh, you needn't fire up in her defence; you and Clover always did adore
Rose Red, I know, but I never could see what there was about her that
was so wonderfully fascinating. She never had the least style, and she
was always just as rude to me as she could be."

"You were not intimate at school, but I am sure Rose was never rude,"
said Katy, with spirit.

"Well, we won't fight about her at this late day. Tell me where you have
been, and where you are going, and how long you are to stay in Europe."

Katy, glad to change the subject, complied, and the conversation
diverged into comparison of plans and experiences. Lilly had been in
Europe nearly a year, and had seen "almost everything," as she phrased
it. She and her mother had spent the previous winter in Italy, had taken
a run into Russia, "done" Switzerland and the Tyrol thoroughly, and
France and Germany, and were soon going into Spain, and from there to
Paris, to shop in preparation for their return home in the spring.

"Of course we shall want quantities of things," she said. "No one will
believe that we have been abroad unless we bring home a lot of clothes.
The _lingerie_ and all that is ordered already; but the dresses must be
made at the last moment, and we shall have a horrid time of it, I
suppose. Worth has promised to make me two walking-suits and two
ball-dresses, but he's very bad about keeping his word. Did you do much
when you were in Paris, Katy?"

"We went to the Louvre three times, and to Versailles and St. Cloud,"
said Katy, wilfully misunderstanding her.

"Oh, I didn't mean that kind of stupid thing; I meant gowns. What
did you buy?"

"One tailor-made suit of dark blue cloth."

"My! what moderation!"

Shopping played a large part in Lilly's reminiscences. She recollected
places, not from their situation or beauty or historical associations,
or because of the works of art which they contained, but as the places
where she bought this or that.

"Oh, that dear Piazza di Spagna!" she would say; "that was where I
found my rococo necklace, the loveliest thing you ever saw, Katy." Or,
"Prague--oh yes, mother got the most enchanting old silver chatelaine
there, with all kinds of things hanging to it,--needlecases and watches
and scent-bottles, all solid, and so beautifully chased." Or again,
"Berlin was horrid, we thought; but the amber is better and cheaper
than anywhere else,--great strings of beads, of the largest size and
that beautiful pale yellow, for a hundred francs. You must get yourself
one, Katy."

Poor Lilly! Europe to her was all "things." She had collected trunks
full of objects to carry home, but of the other collections which do not
go into trunks, she had little or none. Her mind was as empty, her heart
as untouched as ever; the beauty and the glory and the pathos of art and
history and Nature had been poured out in vain before her closed and
indifferent eyes.

Life soon dropped into a peaceful routine at the Pension Suisse, which
was at the same time restful and stimulating. Katy's first act in the
morning, as soon as she opened her eyes, was to hurry to the window in
hopes of getting a glimpse of Corsica. She had discovered that this
elusive island could almost always be seen from Nice at the dawning, but
that as soon as the sun was fairly up, it vanished to appear no more for
the rest of the day. There was something fascinating to her imagination
in the hovering mountain outline between sea and sky. She felt as if she
were under an engagement to be there to meet it, and she rarely missed
the appointment. Then, after Corsica had pulled the bright mists over
its face and melted from view, she would hurry with her dressing, and as
soon as was practicable set to work to make the _salon_ look bright
before the coffee and rolls should appear, a little after eight o'clock.
Mrs. Ashe always found the fire lit, the little meal cosily set out
beside it, and Katy's happy untroubled face to welcome her when she
emerged from her room; and the cheer of these morning repasts made a
good beginning for the day.

Then came walking and a French lesson, and a long sitting on the beach,
while Katy worked at her home letters and Amy raced up and down in the
sun; and then toward noon Lieutenant Ned generally appeared, and some
scheme of pleasure was set on foot. Mrs. Ashe ignored his evident
_penchant_ for Lilly Page, and claimed his time and attentions as hers
by right. Young Worthington was a good deal "taken" with the pretty
Lilly; still, he had an old-time devotion for his sister and the habit
of doing what she desired, and he yielded to her behests with no audible
objections. He made a fourth in the carriage while they drove over the
lovely hills which encircle Nice toward the north, to Cimiers and the
Val de St. André, or down the coast toward Ventimiglia. He went with
them to Monte-Carlo and Mentone, and was their escort again and again
when they visited the great war-ships as they lay at anchor in a bay
which in its translucent blue was like an enormous sapphire.

Mrs. Page and her daughter were included in these parties more than
once; but there was something in Mrs. Ashe's cool appropriation of her
brother which was infinitely vexatious to Lilly, who before her
arrival had rather looked upon Lieutenant Worthington as her own
especial property.

"I wish _that_ Mrs. Ashe had stayed at home," she told her mother. "She
quite spoils everything. Mr. Worthington isn't half so nice as he was
before she came. I do believe she has a plan for making him fall in love
with Katy; but there she makes a miss of it, for he doesn't seem to care
anything about her."

"Katy is a nice girl enough," pronounced her mother, "but not of the
sort to attract a gay young man, I should fancy. I don't believe _she_
is thinking of any such thing. You needn't be afraid, Lilly."

"I'm not afraid," said Lilly, with a pout; "only it's so provoking."

Mrs. Page was quite right. Katy was not thinking of any such thing. She
liked Ned Worthington's frank manners; she owned, quite honestly, that
she thought him handsome, and she particularly admired the sort of
deferential affection which he showed to Mrs. Ashe, and his nice ways
with Amy. For herself, she was aware that he scarcely noticed her except
as politeness demanded that he should be civil to his sister's friend;
but the knowledge did not trouble her particularly. Her head was full of
interesting things, plans, ideas. She was not accustomed to being made
the object of admiration, and experienced none of the vexations of a
neglected belle. If Lieutenant Worthington happened to talk to her, she
responded frankly and freely; if he did not, she occupied herself with
something else; in either case she was quite unembarrassed both in
feeling and manner, and had none of the awkwardness which comes from
disappointed vanity and baffled expectations, and the need for
concealing them.

Toward the close of December the officers of the flag-ship gave a ball,
which was the great event of the season to the gay world of Nice.
Americans were naturally in the ascendant on an American frigate; and of
all the American girls present, Lilly Page was unquestionably the
prettiest. Exquisitely dressed in white lace, with bands of turquoises
on her neck and arms and in her hair, she had more partners than she
knew what to do with, more bouquets than she could well carry, and
compliments enough to turn any girl's head. Thrown off her guard by her
triumphs, she indulged a little vindictive feeling which had been
growing in her mind of late on account of what she chose to consider
certain derelictions of duty on the part of Lieutenant Worthington, and
treated him to a taste of neglect. She was engaged three deep when he
asked her to dance; she did not hear when he invited her to walk; she
turned a cold shoulder when he tried to talk, and seemed absorbed by the
other cavaliers, naval and otherwise, who crowded about her.

Piqued and surprised, Ned Worthington turned to Katy. She did not dance,
saying frankly that she did not know how and was too tall; and she was
rather simply dressed in a pearl-gray silk, which had been her best gown
the winter before in Burnet, with a bunch of red roses in the white lace
of the tucker, and another in her hand, both the gifts of little Amy;
but she looked pleasant and serene, and there was something about her
which somehow soothed his disturbed mind, as he offered her his arm for
a walk on the decks.

For a while they said little, and Katy was quite content to pace up and
down in silence, enjoying the really beautiful scene,--the moonlight on
the Bay, the deep wavering reflections of the dark hulls and slender
spars, the fairy effect of the colored lamps and lanterns, and the
brilliant moving maze of the dancers.

"Do you care for this sort of thing?" he suddenly asked.

"What sort of thing do you mean?"

"Oh, all this jigging and waltzing and amusement."

"I don't know how to 'jig,' but it's delightful to look on," she
answered merrily. "I never saw anything so pretty in my life."

The happy tone of her voice and the unruffled face which she turned upon
him quieted his irritation.

"I really believe you mean it," he said; "and yet, if you won't think me
rude to say so, most girls would consider the thing dull enough if they
were only getting out of it what you are,--if they were not dancing, I
mean, and nobody in particular was trying to entertain them."

"But everything _is_ being done to entertain me," cried Katy. "I can't
imagine what makes you think that it could seem dull. I am in it all,
don't you see,--I have my share--. Oh, I am stupid, I can't make you
understand."

"Yes, you do. I understand perfectly, I think; only it is such a
different point of view from what girls in general would take." (By
girls he meant Lilly!) "Please do not think me uncivil."

"You are not uncivil at all; but don't let us talk any more about me.
Look at the lights between the shadows of the masts on the water. How
they quiver! I never saw anything so beautiful, I think. And how warm it
is! I can't believe that we are in December and that it is nearly
Christmas."

"How is Polly going to celebrate her Christmas? Have you decided?"

"Amy is to have a Christmas-tree for her dolls, and two other dolls are
coming. We went out this morning to buy things for it,--tiny little toys
and candles fit for Lilliput. And that reminds me, do you suppose one
can get any Christmas greens here?"

"Why not? The place seems full of green."

"That's just it; the summer look makes it unnatural. But I should like
some to dress the parlor with if they could be had."

"I'll see what I can find, and send you a load."

I don't know why this very simple little talk should have made an
impression on Lieutenant Worthington's mind, but somehow he did not
forget it.

"'Don't let us talk any more about me,'" he said to himself that night
when alone in his cabin. "I wonder how long it would be before the other
one did anything to divert the talk from herself. Some time, I fancy."
He smiled rather grimly as he unbuckled his sword-belt. It is unlucky
for a girl when she starts a train of reflection like this. Lilly's
little attempt to pique her admirer had somehow missed its mark.

The next afternoon Katy in her favorite place on the beach was at work
on the long weekly letter which she never failed to send home to Burnet.
She held her portfolio in her lap, and her pen ran rapidly over the
paper, as rapidly almost as her tongue would have run could her
correspondents have been brought nearer.


    "Nice, December 22.

    "Dear Papa and everybody,--Amy and I are sitting on my old purple
    cloak, which is spread over the sand just where it was spread the
    last time I wrote you. We are playing the following game: I am a
    fairy and she is a little girl. Another fairy--not sitting on the
    cloak at present--has enchanted the little girl, and I am telling
    her various ways by which she can work out her deliverance. At
    present the task is to find twenty-four dull red pebbles of the same
    color, failing to do which she is to be changed into an owl. When we
    began to play, I was the wicked fairy; but Amy objected to that
    because I am 'so nice,' so we changed the characters. I wish you
    could see the glee in her pretty gray eyes over this infantile game,
    into which she has thrown herself so thoroughly that she half
    believes in it. 'But I needn't really be changed into an owl! 'she
    says, with a good deal of anxiety in her voice.

    "To think that you are shivering in the first snow-storm, or sending
    the children out with their sleds and india-rubbers to slide! How I
    wish instead that you were sharing the purple cloak with Amy and me,
    and could sit all this warm balmy afternoon close to the surf-line
    which fringes this bluest of blue seas! There is plenty of room for
    you all. Not many people come down to this end of the beach, and if
    you were very good we would let you play.

    "Our life here goes on as delightfully as ever. Nice is very full of
    people, and there seem to be some pleasant ones among them. Here at
    the Pension Suisse we do not see a great many Americans. The
    fellow-boarders are principally Germans and Austrians with a
    sprinkling of French. (Amy has found her twenty-four red pebbles, so
    she is let off from being an owl. She is now engaged in throwing
    them one by one into the sea. Each must hit the water under penalty
    of her being turned into a Muscovy duck. She doesn't know exactly
    what a Muscovy duck is, which makes her all the more particular
    about her shots.) But, as I was saying, our little _suite_ in the
    round tower is so on one side of the rest of the Pension that it is
    as good as having a house of our own. The _salon_ is very bright and
    sunny; we have two sofas and a square table and a round table and a
    sort of what-not and two easy-chairs and two uneasy chairs and a
    lamp of our own and a clock. There is also a sofa-pillow. There's
    richness for you! We have pinned up all our photographs on the
    walls, including Papa's and Clovy's and that bad one of Phil and
    Johnnie making faces at each other, and three lovely red and yellow
    Japanese pictures on muslin which Rose Red put in my trunk the last
    thing, for a spot of color. There are some autumn leaves too; and we
    always have flowers and in the mornings and evenings a fire.

    "Amy is now finding fifty snow-white pebbles, which when found are
    to be interred in one common grave among the shingle. If she fails
    to do this, she is to be changed to an electrical eel. The chief
    difficulty is that she loses her heart to particular pebbles. 'I
    can't bury you,' I hear her saying.

    "To return,--we have jolly little breakfasts together in the
    _salon_. They consist of coffee and rolls, and are served by a
    droll, snappish little _garçon_ with no teeth, and an Italian-French
    patois which is very hard to understand when he sputters. He told me
    the other day that he had been a _garçon_ for forty-six years, which
    seemed rather a long boyhood.

    "The company, as we meet them at table, are rather entertaining.
    Cousin Olivia and Lilly are on their best behavior to me because I
    am travelling with Mrs. Ashe, and Mrs. Ashe is Lieutenant
    Worthington's sister, and Lieutenant Worthington is Lilly's admirer,
    and they like him very much. In fact, Lilly has intimated
    confidentially that she is all but engaged to him; but I am not sure
    about it, or if that was what she meant; and I fear, if it proves
    true, that dear Polly will not like it at all. She is quite
    unmanageable, and snubs Lilly continually in a polite way, which
    makes me fidgety for fear Lilly will be offended, but she never
    seems to notice it. Cousin Olivia looks very handsome and gorgeous.
    She quite takes the color out of the little Russian Countess who
    sits next to her, and who is as dowdy and meek as if she came from
    Akron or Binghampton, or any other place where countesses are
    unknown. Then there are two charming, well-bred young Austrians. The
    one who sits nearest to me is a 'Candidat' for a Doctorate of Laws,
    and speaks eight languages well. He has only studied English for the
    past six weeks, but has made wonderful progress. I wish my French
    were half as good as his English is already.

    "There is a very gossiping young woman on the story beneath ours,
    whom I meet sometimes in the garden, and from her I hear all manner
    of romantic tales about people in the house. One little French girl
    is dying of consumption and a broken heart, because of a quarrel
    with her lover, who is a courier; and the _padrona_, who is young
    and pretty, and has only been married a few months to our elderly
    landlord, has a story also. I forget some of the details; but there
    was a stern parent and an admirer, and a cup of cold poison, and now
    she says she wishes she were dying of consumption like poor
    Alphonsine. For all that, she looks quite fat and rosy, and I often
    see her in her best gown with a great deal of Roman scarf and mosaic
    jewelry, stationed in the doorway, 'making the Pension look
    attractive to the passers-by.' So she has a sense of duty, though
    she is unhappy.

    "Amy has buried all her pebbles, and says she is tired of playing
    fairy. She is now sitting with her head on my shoulder, and
    professedly studying her French verb for to-morrow, but in reality,
    I am sorry to say, she is conversing with me about be-headings,--a
    subject which, since her visit to the Tower, has exercised a
    horrible fascination over her mind. 'Do people die right away?' she
    asks. 'Don't they feel one minute, and doesn't it feel awfully?'
    There is a good deal of blood, she supposes, because there was so
    much straw laid about the block in the picture of Lady Jane Gray's
    execution, which enlivened our walls in Paris. On the whole, I am
    rather glad that a fat little white dog has come waddling down the
    beach and taken off her attention.

    "Speaking of Paris seems to renew the sense of fog which we had
    there. Oh, how enchanting sunshine is after weeks of gloom! I shall
    never forget how the Mediterranean looked when we saw it first,--all
    blue, and such a lovely color. There ought, according to Morse's
    Atlas, to have been a big red letter T on the water about where we
    were, but I didn't see any. Perhaps they letter it so far out from
    shore that only people in boats notice it.

    "Now the dusk is fading, and the odd chill which hides under these
    warm afternoons begins to be felt. Amy has received a message
    written on a mysterious white pebble to the effect--"

Katy was interrupted at this point by a crunching step on the gravel
behind her.

"Good afternoon," said a voice. "Polly has sent me to fetch you and Amy
in. She says it is growing cool."

"We were just coming," said Katy, beginning to put away her papers.

Ned Worthington sat down on the cloak beside her. The distance was now
steel gray against the sky; then came a stripe of violet, and then a
broad sheet of the vivid iridescent blue which one sees on the necks of
peacocks, which again melted into the long line of flashing surf.

"See that gull," he said, "how it drops plumb into the sea, as if bound
to go through to China!"

"Mrs. Hawthorne calls skylarks 'little raptures,'" replied Katy.
"Sea-gulls seem to me like grown-up raptures."

"Are you going?" said Lieutenant Worthington in a tone of surprise,
as she rose.

"Didn't you say that Polly wanted us to come in?"

"Why, yes; but it seems too good to leave, doesn't it? Oh, by the way,
Miss Carr, I came across a man to-day and ordered your greens. They will
be sent on Christmas Eve. Is that right?"

"Quite right, and we are ever so much obliged to you." She turned for a
last look at the sea, and, unseen by Ned Worthington, formed her lips
into a "good-night." Katy had made great friends with the Mediterranean.

The promised "greens" appeared on the afternoon before Christmas Day, in
the shape of an enormous fagot of laurel and laurestinus and holly and
box; orange and lemon boughs with ripe fruit hanging from them, thick
ivy tendrils whole yards long, arbutus, pepper tree, and great branches
of acacia, covered with feathery yellow bloom. The man apologized for
bringing so little. The gentleman had ordered two francs worth, he said,
but this was all he could carry; he would fetch some more if the young
lady wished! But Katy, exclaiming with delight over her wealth, wished
no more; so the man departed, and the three friends proceeded to turn
the little _salon_ into a fairy bower. Every photograph and picture was
wreathed in ivy, long garlands hung on either side the windows, and the
chimney-piece and door-frames became clustering banks of leaf and
blossom. A great box of flowers had come with the greens, and bowls of
fresh roses and heliotrope and carnations were set everywhere; violets
and primroses, gold-hearted brown auriculas, spikes of veronica, all the
zones and all the seasons, combining to make the Christmas-tide sweet,
and to turn winter topsy-turvy in the little parlor.

Mabel and Mary Matilda, with their two doll visitors, sat gravely round
the table, in the laps of their little mistresses; and Katy, putting on
an apron and an improvised cap, and speaking Irish very fast, served
them with a repast of rolls and cocoa, raspberry jam, and delicious
little almond cakes. The fun waxed fast and furious; and Lieutenant
Worthington, coming in with his hands full of parcels for the
Christmas-tree, was just in time to hear Katy remark in a strong County
Kerry brogue,--

"Och, thin indade, Miss Amy, and it's no more cake you'll be getting out
of me the night. That's four pieces you've ate, and it's little slape
your poor mother'll git with you a tossin' and tumblin' forenenst her
all night long because of your big appetite."

"Oh, Miss Katy, talk Irish some more!" cried the delighted children.

"Is it Irish you'd be afther having me talk, when it's me own langwidge,
and sorrow a bit of another do I know?" demanded Katy. Then she caught
sight of the new arrival and stopped short with a blush and a laugh.

"Come in, Mr. Worthington," she said; "we're at supper, as you see, and
I am acting as waitress."

"Oh, Uncle Ned, please go away," pleaded Amy, "or Katy will be polite,
and not talk Irish any more."

"Indade, and the less ye say about politeness the betther, when ye're
afther ordering the jantleman out of the room in that fashion!" said the
waitress. Then she pulled off her cap and untied her apron.

"Now for the Christmas-tree," she said.

It was a very little tree, but it bore some remarkable fruits; for in
addition to the "tiny toys and candles fit for Lilliput," various
parcels were found to have been hastily added at the last moment for
various people. The "Natchitoches" had lately come from the Levant, and
delightful Oriental confections now appeared for Amy and Mrs. Ashe;
Turkish slippers, all gold embroidery; towels, with richly decorated
ends in silks and tinsel;--all the pretty superfluities which the East
holds out to charm gold from the pockets of her Western visitors. A
pretty little dagger in agate and silver fell to Katy's share out of
what Lieutenant Worthington called his "loot;" and beside, a most
beautiful specimen of the inlaid work for which Nice is famous,--a
looking-glass, with a stand and little doors to close it in,--which was
a present from Mrs. Ashe. It was quite unlike a Christmas Eve at home,
but altogether delightful; and as Katy sat next morning on the sand,
after the service in the English church, to finish her home letter, and
felt the sun warm on her cheek, and the perfumed air blow past as softly
as in June, she had to remind herself that Christmas is not necessarily
synonymous with snow and winter, but means the great central heat and
warmth, the advent of Him who came to lighten the whole earth.

A few days after this pleasant Christmas they left Nice. All of them
felt a reluctance to move, and Amy loudly bewailed the necessity.

"If I could stay here till it is time to go home, I shouldn't be
homesick at all," she declared.

"But what a pity it would be not to see Italy!" said her mother. "Think
of Naples and Rome and Venice."

"I don't want to think about them. It makes me feel as if I was studying
a great long geography lesson, and it tires me so to learn it."

"Amy, dear, you're not well."

"Yes, I am,--quite well; only I don't want to go away from Nice."

"You only have to learn a little bit at a time of your geography lesson,
you know," suggested Katy; "and it's a great deal nicer way to study it
than out of a book." But though she spoke cheerfully she was conscious
that she shared Amy's reluctance.

"It's all laziness," she told herself. "Nice has been so pleasant that
it has spoiled me."

It was a consolation and made going easier that they were to drive over
the famous Cornice Road as far as San Remo, instead of going to Genoa
by rail as most travellers now-a-days do. They departed from the
Pension Suisse early on an exquisite morning, fair and balmy as June,
but with a little zest and sparkle of coolness in the air which made it
additionally delightful. The Mediterranean was of the deepest
violet-blue; a sort of bloom of color seemed to lie upon it. The sky
was like an arch of turquoise; every cape and headland shone jewel-like
in the golden sunshine. The carriage, as it followed the windings of
the road cut shelf-like on the cliffs, seemed poised between earth and
heaven; the sea below, the mountain summits above, with a fairy world
of verdure between. The journey was like a dream of enchantment and
rapidly changing surprises; and when it ended in a quaint hostelry at
San Remo, with palm-trees feathering the Bordighera Point and Corsica,
for once seen by day, lying in bold, clear outlines against the sunset,
Katy had to admit to herself that Nice, much as she loved it, was not
the only, not even the most beautiful place in Europe. Already she felt
her horizon growing, her convictions changing; and who should say what
lay beyond?

The next day brought them to Genoa, to a hotel once the stately palace
of an archbishop, where they were lodged, all three together, in an
enormous room, so high and broad and long that their three little
curtained beds set behind a screen of carved wood made no impression on
the space. There were not less than four sofas and double that number of
arm-chairs in the room, besides a couple of monumental wardrobes; but,
as Katy remarked, several grand pianos could still have been moved in
without anybody's feeling crowded. On one side of them lay the port of
Genoa, filled with craft from all parts of the world, and flying the
flags of a dozen different nations. From the other they caught glimpses
of the magnificent old city, rising in tier over tier of churches and
palaces and gardens; while nearer still were narrow streets, which
glittered with gold filigree and the shops of jewel-workers. And while
they went in and out and gazed and wondered, Lilly Page, at the Pension
Suisse, was saying,--

"I am so glad that Katy and _that_ Mrs. Ashe are gone. Nothing has been
so pleasant since they came. Lieutenant Worthington is dreadfully stiff
and stupid, and seems quite different from what he used to be. But now
that we have got rid of them it will all come right again."

"I really don't think that Katy was to blame," said Mrs. Page. "She
never seemed to me to be making any effort to attract him."

"Oh, Katy is sly," responded Lilly, vindictively. "She never _seems_ to
do anything, but somehow she always gets her own way. I suppose she
thought I didn't see her keeping him down there on the beach the other
day when he was coming in to call on us, but I did. It was just out of
spite, and because she wanted to vex me; I know it was."

"Well, dear, she's gone now, and you won't be worried with her again,"
said her mother, soothingly. "Don't pout so, Lilly, and wrinkle up your
forehead. It's very unbecoming."

"Yes, she's gone," snapped Lilly; "and as she's bound for the East, and
we for the West, we are not likely to meet again, for which I am
devoutly thankful."



CHAPTER VIII.

ON THE TRACK OF ULYSSES.


"We are going to follow the track of Ulysses," said Katy, with her eyes
fixed on the little travelling-map in her guide-book. "Do you realize
that, Polly dear? He and his companions sailed these very seas before
us, and we shall see the sights they saw,--Circe's Cape and the Isles of
the Sirens, and Polyphemus himself, perhaps, who knows?"

The "Marco Polo" had just cast off her moorings, and was slowly steaming
out of the crowded port of Genoa into the heart of a still rosy sunset.
The water was perfectly smooth; no motion could be felt but the engine's
throb. The trembling foam of the long wake showed glancing points of
phosphorescence here and there, while low on the eastern sky a great
silver planet burned like a signal lamp.

"Polyphemus was a horrible giant. I read about him once, and I don't
want to see him," observed Amy, from her safe protected perch in her
mother's lap.

"He may not be so bad now as he was in those old times. Some missionary
may have come across him and converted him. If he were good, you
wouldn't mind his being big, would you?" suggested Katy.

"N-o," replied Amy, doubtfully; "but it would take a great lot of
missionaries to make _him_ good, I should think. One all alone would be
afraid to speak to him. We shan't really see him, shall we?"

"I don't believe we shall; and if we stuff cotton in our ears and look
the other way, we need not hear the sirens sing," said Katy, who was in
the highest spirits.--"And oh, Polly dear, there is one delightful thing
I forgot to tell you about. The captain says he shall stay in Leghorn
all day to-morrow taking on freight, and we shall have plenty of time to
run up to Pisa and see the Cathedral and the Leaning Tower and
everything else. Now, that is something Ulysses didn't do! I am so glad
I didn't die of measles when I was little, as Rose Red used to say." She
gave her book a toss into the air as she spoke, and caught it again as
it fell, very much as the Katy Carr of twelve years ago might have done.

"What a child you are!" said Mrs. Ashe, approvingly; "you never seem out
of sorts or tired of things."

"Out of sorts? I should think not! And pray why should I be,
Polly dear?"

Katy had taken to calling her friend "Polly dear" of late,--a trick
picked up half unconsciously from Lieutenant Ned. Mrs. Ashe liked it;
it was sisterly and intimate, she said, and made her feel nearer
Katy's age.

"Does the tower really lean?" questioned Amy,--"far over, I mean, so
that we can see it?"

"We shall know to-morrow," replied Katy. "If it doesn't, I shall lose
all my confidence in human nature."

Katy's confidence in human nature was not doomed to be impaired. There
stood the famous tower, when they reached the Place del Duomo in Pisa,
next morning, looking all aslant, exactly as it does in the pictures and
the alabaster models, and seeming as if in another moment it must topple
over, from its own weight, upon their heads. Mrs. Ashe declared that it
was so unnatural that it made her flesh creep; and when she was coaxed
up the winding staircase to the top, she turned so giddy that they were
all thankful to get her safely down to firm ground again. She turned her
back upon the tower, as they crossed the grassy space to the majestic
old Cathedral, saying that if she thought about it any more, she should
become a disbeliever in the attraction of gravitation, which she had
always been told all respectable people _must_ believe in.

The guide showed them the lamp swinging by a long slender chain, before
which Galileo is said to have sat and pondered while he worked out his
theory of the pendulum. This lamp seemed a sort of own cousin to the
attraction of gravitation, and they gazed upon it with respect. Then
they went to the Baptistery to see Niccolo Pisano's magnificent pulpit
of creamy marble, a mass of sculpture supported on the backs of lions,
and the equally lovely font, and to admire the extraordinary sound
which their guide evoked from a mysterious echo, with which he seemed
to be on intimate terms, for he made it say whatever he would and
almost "answer back."

It was in coming out of the Baptistery that they met with an adventure
which Amy could never quite forget. Pisa is the mendicant city of Italy,
and her streets are infested with a band of religious beggars who call
themselves the Brethren of the Order of Mercy. They wear loose black
gowns, sandals laced over their bare feet, and black cambric masks with
holes, through which their eyes glare awfully; and they carry tin cups
for the reception of offerings, which they thrust into the faces of all
strangers visiting the city, whom they look upon as their lawful prey.

As our party emerged from the Baptistery, two of these Brethren espied
them, and like great human bats came swooping down upon them with long
strides, their black garments flying in the wind, their eyes rolling
strangely behind their masks, and brandishing their alms-cups, which had
"Pour les Pauvres" lettered upon them, and gave forth a clapping sound
like a watchman's rattle. There was something terrible in their
appearance and the rushing speed of their movements. Amy screamed and
ran behind her mother, who visibly shrank. Katy stood her ground; but
the bat-winged fiends in Doré's illustrations to Dante occurred to her,
and her fingers trembled as she dropped some money in the cups.

Even mendicant friars are human. Katy ceased to tremble as she observed
that one of them, as he retreated, walked backward for some distance in
order to gaze longer at Mrs. Ashe, whose cheeks were flushed with bright
pink and who was looking particularly handsome. She began to laugh
instead, and Mrs. Ashe laughed too; but Amy could not get over the
impression of having been attacked by demons, and often afterward
recurred with a shudder to the time when those awful black _things_ flew
at her and she hid behind mamma. The ghastly pictures of the Triumph of
Death, which were presently exhibited to them on the walls of the Campo
Santo, did not tend to reassure her, and it was with quite a pale,
scared little face that she walked toward the hotel where they were to
lunch, and she held fast to Katy's hand.

Their way led them through a narrow street inhabited by the poorer
classes,--a dusty street with high shabby buildings on either side and
wide doorways giving glimpses of interior courtyards, where empty
hogsheads and barrels and rusty caldrons lay, and great wooden trays of
macaroni were spread out in the sun to dry. Some of the macaroni was
gray, some white, some yellow; none of it looked at all desirable to
eat, as it lay exposed to the dust, with long lines of ill-washed
clothes flapping above on wires stretched from one house to another. As
is usual in poor streets, there were swarms of children; and the
appearance of little Amy with her long bright hair falling over her
shoulders and Mabel clasped in her arms created a great sensation. The
children in the street shouted and exclaimed, and other children within
the houses heard the sounds and came trooping out, while mothers and
older sisters peeped from the doorways. The very air seemed full of
eager faces and little brown and curly heads bobbing up and down with
excitement, and black eyes all fixed upon big beautiful Mabel, who with
her thick wig of flaxen hair, her blue velvet dress and jacket,
feathered hat, and little muff, seemed to them like some strange small
marvel from another world. They could not decide whether she was a
living child or a make-believe one, and they dared not come near enough
to find out; so they clustered at a little distance, pointed with their
fingers, and whispered and giggled, while Amy, much pleased with the
admiration shown for her darling, lifted Mabel up to view.

At last one droll little girl with a white cap on her round head seemed
to make up _her_ mind, and darting indoors returned with her doll,--a
poor little image of wood, its only garment a coarse shirt of red
cotton. This she held out for Amy to see. Amy smiled for the first time
since her encounter with the bat-like friars; and Katy, taking Mabel
from her, made signs that the two dolls should kiss each other. But
though the little Italian screamed with laughter at the idea of a
_bacio_ between two dolls, she would by no means allow it, and hid her
treasure behind her back, blushing and giggling, and saying something
very fast which none of them understood, while she waved two fingers at
them with a curious gesture.

"I do believe she is afraid Mabel will cast the evil eye on her doll,"
said Katy at last, with a sudden understanding as to what this
pantomime meant.

"Why, you silly thing!" cried the outraged Amy; "do you suppose for one
moment that my child could hurt your dirty old dolly? You ought to be
glad to have her noticed at all by anybody that's clean."

The sound of the foreign tongue completed the discomfiture of the
little Italian. With a shriek she fled, and all the other children
after her; pausing at a distance to look back at the alarming creatures
who didn't speak the familiar language. Katy, wishing to leave a
pleasant impression, made Mabel kiss her waxen fingers toward them.
This sent the children off into another fit of laughter and chatter,
and they followed our friends for quite a distance as they proceeded on
their way to the hotel.

All that night, over a sea as smooth as glass, the "Marco Polo" slipped
along the coasts past which the ships of Ulysses sailed in those old
legendary days which wear so charmed a light to our modern eyes. Katy
roused at three in the morning, and looking from her cabin window had a
glimpse of an island, which her map showed her must be Elba, where that
war-eagle Napoleon was chained for a while. Then she fell asleep again,
and when she roused in full daylight the steamer was off the coast of
Ostia and nearing the mouth of the Tiber. Dreamy mountain-shapes rose
beyond the far-away Campagna, and every curve and indentation of the
coast bore a name which recalled some interesting thing.

About eleven a dim-drawn bubble appeared on the horizon, which the
captain assured them was the dome of St. Peter's, nearly thirty miles
distant. This was one of the "moments" which Clover had been fond of
speculating about; and Katy, contrasting the real with the imaginary
moment, could not help smiling. Neither she nor Clover had ever supposed
that her first glimpse of the great dome was to be so little impressive.

On and on they went till the air-hung bubble disappeared; and Amy, grown
very tired of scenery with which she had no associations, and grown-up
raptures which she did not comprehend, squeezed herself into the end of
the long wooden settee on which Katy sat, and began to beg for another
story concerning Violet and Emma.

"Just a little tiny chapter, you know, Miss Katy, about what they did on
New Year's Day or something. It's so dull to keep sailing and sailing
all day and have nothing to do, and it's ever so long since you told me
anything about them, really and truly it is!"

Now, Violet and Emma, if the truth is to be told, had grown to be the
bane of Katy's existence. She had rung the changes on their uneventful
adventures, and racked her brains to invent more and more details, till
her imagination felt like a dry sponge from which every possible drop of
moisture had been squeezed. Amy was insatiable. Her interest in the tale
never flagged; and when her exhausted friend explained that she really
could not think of another word to say on the subject, she would turn
the tables by asking, "Then, Miss Katy, mayn't I tell _you_ a chapter?"
whereupon she would proceed somewhat in this fashion:--

"It was the day before Christmas--no, we won't have it the day before
Christmas; it shall be three days before Thanksgiving. Violet and Emma
got up in the morning, and--well, they didn't do anything in particular
that day. They just had their breakfasts and dinners, and played and
studied a little, and went to bed early, you know, and the next morning
--well, there didn't much happen that day, either; they just had their
breakfasts and dinners, and played."

Listening to Amy's stories was so much worse than telling them to her,
that Katy in self-defence was driven to recommence her narrations, but
she had grown to hate Violet and Emma with a deadly hatred. So when Amy
made this appeal on the steamer's deck, a sudden resolution took
possession of her, and she decided to put an end to these dreadful
children once for all.

"Yes, Amy," she said, "I will tell you one more story about Violet and
Emma; but this is positively the last."

So Amy cuddled close to her friend, and listened with rapt attention as
Katy told how on a certain day just before the New Year, Violet and Emma
started by themselves in a little sleigh drawn by a pony, to carry to a
poor woman who lived in a lonely house high up on a mountain slope a
basket containing a turkey, a mould of cranberry jelly, a bunch of
celery, and a mince-pie.

"They were so pleased at having all these nice things to take to poor
widow Simpson and in thinking how glad she would be to see them,"
proceeded the naughty Katy, "that they never noticed how black the sky
was getting to be, or how the wind howled through the bare boughs of the
trees. They had to go slowly, for the road was up hill all the way, and
it was hard work for the poor pony. But he was a stout little fellow,
and tugged away up the slippery track, and Violet and Emma talked and
laughed, and never thought what was going to happen. Just half-way up
the mountain there was a rocky cliff which overhung the road, and on
this cliff grew an enormous hemlock tree. The branches were loaded with
snow, which made them much heavier than usual. Just as the sleigh passed
slowly underneath the cliff, a violent blast of wind blew up from the
ravine, struck the hemlock and tore it out of the ground, roots and all.
It fell directly across the sleigh, and Violet and Emma and the pony and
the basket with the turkey and the other things in it were all crushed
as flat as pancakes!"

"Well," said Amy, as Katy stopped, "go on! what happened then?"

"Nothing happened then," replied Katy, in a tone of awful solemnity;
"nothing could happen! Violet and Emma were dead, the pony was dead, the
things in the basket were broken all to little bits, and a great
snowstorm began and covered them up, and no one knew where they were or
what had become of them till the snow melted in the spring."

With a loud shriek Amy jumped up from the bench.

"No! no! no!" she cried; "they aren't dead! I won't let them be dead!"
Then she burst into tears, ran down the stairs, locked herself into her
mother's stateroom, and did not appear again for several hours.

Katy laughed heartily at first over this outburst, but presently she
began to repent and to think that she had treated her pet unkindly. She
went down and knocked at the stateroom door; but Amy would not answer.
She called her softly through the key-hole, and coaxed and pleaded, but
it was all in vain. Amy remained invisible till late in the afternoon;
and when she finally crept up again to the deck, her eyes were red with
crying, and her little face as pale and miserable as if she had been
attending the funeral of her dearest friend.

Katy's heart smote her.

"Come here, my darling," she said, holding out her hand; "come and sit
in my lap and forgive me. Violet and Emma shall not be dead. They shall
go on living, since you care so much for them, and I will tell stories
about them to the end of the chapter."

"No," said Amy, shaking her head mournfully; "you can't. They're dead,
and they won't come to life again ever. It's all over, and I'm so
so-o-rry."

All Katy's apologies and efforts to resuscitate the story were useless.
Violet and Emma were dead to Amy's imagination, and she could not make
herself believe in them any more.

She was too woe-begone to care for the fables of Circe and her swine
which Katy told as they rounded the magnificent Cape Circello, and the
isles where the sirens used to sing appealed to her in vain. The sun
set, the stars came out; and under the beams of their countless lamps
and the beckonings of a slender new moon, the "Marco Polo" sailed into
the Bay of Naples, past Vesuvius, whose dusky curl of smoke could be
seen outlined against the luminous sky, and brought her passengers to
their landing-place.

They woke next morning to a summer atmosphere full of yellow sunshine
and true July warmth. Flower-vendors stood on every corner, and pursued
each newcomer with their fragrant wares. Katy could not stop exclaiming
over the cheapness of the flowers, which were thrust in at the carriage
windows as they drove slowly up and down the streets. They were tied
into flat nosegays, whose centre was a white camellia, encircled with
concentric rows of pink tea rosebuds, ring after ring, till the whole
was the size of an ordinary milk-pan; all to be had for the sum of ten
cents! But after they had bought two or three of these enormous
bouquets, and had discovered that not a single rose boasted an inch of
stem, and that all were pierced with long wires through their very
hearts, she ceased to care for them.

"I would rather have one Souvenir or General Jacqueminot, with a long
stem and plenty of leaves, than a dozen of these stiff platters of
bouquets," Katy told Mrs. Ashe. But when they drove beyond the city
gates, and the coachman came to anchor beneath walls overhung with the
same roses, and she found that she might stand on the seat and pull down
as many branches of the lovely flowers as she desired, and gather
wallflowers for herself out of the clefts in the masonry, she was
entirely satisfied.

"This is the Italy of my dreams," she said.

With all its beauty there was an underlying sense of danger about
Naples, which interfered with their enjoyment of it. Evil smells came
in at the windows, or confronted them as they went about the city.
There seemed something deadly in the air. Whispered reports met their
ears of cases of fever, which the landlords of the hotels were doing
their best to hush up. An American gentleman was said to be lying very
ill at one house. A lady had died the week before at another. Mrs. Ashe
grew nervous.

"We will just take a rapid look at a few of the principal things," she
told Katy, "and then get away as fast as we can. Amy is so on my mind
that I have no peace of my life. I keep feeling her pulse and imagining
that she does not look right; and though I know it is all my fancy, I am
impatient to be off. You won't mind, will you, Katy?"

After that everything they did was done in a hurry. Katy felt as if she
were being driven about by a cyclone, as they rushed from one sight to
another, filling up all the chinks between with shopping, which was
irresistible where everything was so pretty and so wonderfully cheap.
She herself purchased a tortoise-shell fan and chain for Rose Red, and
had her monogram carved upon it; a coral locket for Elsie; some studs
for Dorry; and for her father a small, beautiful vase of bronze, copied
from one of the Pompeian antiques.

"How charming it is to have money to spend in such a place as this!" she
said to herself with a sigh of satisfaction as she surveyed these
delightful buyings. "I only wish I could get ten times as many things
and take them to ten times as many people. Papa was so wise about it. I
can't think how it is that he always knows beforehand exactly how people
are going to feel, and what they will want!"

Mrs. Ashe also bought a great many things for herself and Amy, and to
take home as presents; and it was all very pleasant and satisfactory
except for that subtle sense of danger from which they could not escape
and which made them glad to go. "See Naples and die," says the old
adage; and the saying has proved sadly true in the case of many an
American traveller.

Beside the talk of fever there was also a good deal of gossip about
brigands going about, as is generally the case in Naples and its
vicinity. Something was said to have happened to a party on one of the
heights above Sorrento; and though nobody knew exactly what the
something was, or was willing to vouch for the story, Mrs. Ashe and
Katy felt a good deal of trepidation as they entered the carriage which
was to take them to the neighborhood where the mysterious "something"
had occurred.

The drive between Castellamare and Sorrento is in reality as safe as
that between Boston and Brookline; but as our party did not know this
fact till afterward, it did them no good. It is also one of the most
beautiful drives in the world, following the windings of the exquisite
coast mile after mile, in long links of perfectly made road, carved on
the face of sharp cliffs, with groves of oranges and lemons and olive
orchards above, and the Bay of Naples beneath, stretching away like a
solid sheet of lapis-lazuli, and gemmed with islands of the most
picturesque form.

It is a pity that so much beauty should have been wasted on Mrs. Ashe
and Katy, but they were too frightened to half enjoy it. Their carriage
was driven by a shaggy young savage, who looked quite wild enough to be
a bandit himself. He cracked his whip loudly as they rolled along, and
every now and then gave a long shrill whistle. Mrs. Ashe was sure that
these were signals to his band, who were lurking somewhere on the
olive-hung hillsides. She thought she detected him once or twice making
signs to certain questionable-looking characters as they passed; and she
fancied that the people they met gazed at them with an air of
commiseration, as upon victims who were being carried to execution. Her
fears affected Katy; so, though they talked and laughed, and made jokes
to amuse Amy, who must not be scared or led to suppose that anything was
amiss, and to the outward view seemed a very merry party, they were
privately quaking in their shoes all the way, and enjoying a deal of
highly superfluous misery. And after all they reached Sorrento in
perfect safety; and the driver, who looked so dangerous, turned out to
be a respectable young man enough, with a wife and family to support,
who considered a plateful of macaroni and a glass of sour red wine as
the height of luxury, and was grateful for a small gratuity of thirty
cents or so, which would enable him to purchase these dainties. Mrs.
Ashe had a very bad headache next day, to pay for her fright; but she
and Katy agreed that they had been very foolish, and resolved to pay no
more attention to unaccredited rumors or allow them to spoil their
enjoyment, which was a sensible resolution to make.

Their hotel was perched directly over the sea. From the balcony of their
sitting-room they looked down a sheer cliff some sixty feet high, into
the water; their bedrooms opened on a garden of roses, with an orange
grove beyond. Not far from them was the great gorge which cuts the
little town of Sorrento almost in two, and whose seaward end makes the
harbor of the place. Katy was never tired of peering down into this
strange and beautiful cleft, whose sides, two hundred feet in depth, are
hung with vines and trailing growths of all sorts, and seem all
a-tremble with the fairy fronds of maiden-hair ferns growing out of
every chink and crevice. She and Amy took walks along the coast toward
Massa, to look off at the lovely island shapes in the bay, and admire
the great clumps of cactus and Spanish bayonet which grew by the
roadside; and they always came back loaded with orange-flowers, which
could be picked as freely as apple-blossoms from New England orchards in
the spring. The oranges themselves at that time of the year were very
sour, but they answered as well for a romantic date, "From an orange
grove," as if they had been the sweetest in the world.

They made two different excursions to Pompeii, which is within easy
distance of Sorrento. They scrambled on donkeys over the hills, and had
glimpses of the far-away Calabrian shore, of the natural arch, and the
temples of Pæstum shining in the sun many miles distant. On Katy's
birthday, which fell toward the end of January, Mrs. Ashe let her have
her choice of a treat; and she elected to go to the Island of Capri,
which none of them had seen. It turned out a perfect day, with sea and
wind exactly right for the sail, and to allow of getting into the famous
"Blue Grotto," which can only be entered under particular conditions of
tide and weather. And they climbed the great cliff-rise at the island's
end, and saw the ruins of the villa built by the wicked emperor
Tiberius, and the awful place known as his "Leap," down which, it is
said, he made his victims throw themselves; and they lunched at a hotel
which bore his name, and just at sunset pushed off again for the row
home over the charmed sea. This return voyage was almost the pleasantest
thing of all the day. The water was smooth, the moon at its full. It was
larger and more brilliant than American moons are, and seemed to possess
an actual warmth and color. The boatmen timed their oar-strokes to the
cadence of Neapolitan _barcaroles_ and folk-songs, full of rhythmic
movement, which seemed caught from the pulsing tides. And when at last
the bow grated on the sands of the Sorrento landing-place, Katy drew a
long, regretful breath, and declared that this was her best
birthday-gift of all, better than Amy's flowers, or the pretty
tortoise-shell locket that Mrs. Ashe had given her, better even than the
letter from home, which, timed by happy accident, had arrived by the
morning's post to make a bright opening for the day.

All pleasant things must come to an ending.

"Katy," said Mrs. Ashe, one afternoon in early February, "I heard some
ladies talking just now in the _salon_, and they said that Rome is
filling up very fast. The Carnival begins in less than two weeks, and
everybody wants to be there then. If we don't make haste, we shall not
be able to get any rooms."

"Oh dear!" said Katy, "it is very trying not to be able to be in two
places at once. I want to see Rome dreadfully, and yet I cannot bear to
leave Sorrento. We have been very happy here, haven't we?"

So they took up their wandering staves again, and departed for Rome,
like the Apostle, "not knowing what should befall them there."



CHAPTER IX.

A ROMAN HOLIDAY.


"Oh dear!" said Mrs. Ashe, as she folded her letters and laid them
aside, "I wish those Pages would go away from Nice, or else that the
frigates were not there."

"Why! what's the matter?" asked Katy, looking up from the many-leaved
journal from Clover over which she was poring.

"Nothing is the matter except that those everlasting people haven't gone
to Spain yet, as they said they would, and Ned seems to keep on seeing
them," replied Mrs. Ashe, petulantly.

"But, dear Polly, what difference does it make? And they never did
promise you to go on any particular time, did they?"

"N-o, they didn't; but I wish they would, all the same. Not that Ned is
such a goose as really to care anything for that foolish Lilly!" Then
she gave a little laugh at her own inconsistency, and added, "But I
oughtn't to abuse her when she is your cousin."

"Don't mention it," said Katy, cheerfully. "But, really, I don't see why
poor Lilly need worry you so, Polly dear."

The room in which this conversation took place was on the very topmost
floor of the Hotel del Hondo in Rome. It was large and many-windowed;
and though there was a little bed in one corner half hidden behind a
calico screen, with a bureau and washing-stand, and a sort of stout
mahogany hat-tree on which Katy's dresses and jackets were hanging, the
remaining space, with a sofa and easy-chairs grouped round a fire, and a
round table furnished with books and a lamp, was ample enough to make a
good substitute for the private sitting-room which Mrs. Ashe had not
been able to procure on account of the near approach of the Carnival and
the consequent crowding of strangers to Rome. In fact, she was assured
that under the circumstances she was lucky in finding rooms as good as
these; and she made the most of the assurance as a consolation for the
somewhat unsatisfactory food and service of the hotel, and the four long
flights of stairs which must be passed every time they needed to reach
the dining-room or the street door.

The party had been in Rome only four days, but already they had seen a
host of interesting things. They had stood in the strange sunken space
with its marble floor and broken columns, which is all that is left of
the great Roman Forum. They had visited the Coliseum, at that period
still overhung with ivy garlands and trailing greeneries, and not, as
now, scraped clean and bare and "tidied" out of much of its
picturesqueness. They had seen the Baths of Caracalla and the Temple of
Janus and St. Peter's and the Vatican marbles, and had driven out on the
Campagna and to the Pamphili-Doria Villa to gather purple and red
anemones, and to the English cemetery to see the grave of Keats. They
had also peeped into certain shops, and attended a reception at the
American Minister's,--in short, like most unwarned travellers, they had
done about twice as much as prudence and experience would have
permitted, had those worthies been consulted.

All the romance of Katy's nature responded to the fascination of the
ancient city,--the capital of the world, as it may truly be called. The
shortest drive or walk brought them face to face with innumerable and
unexpected delights. Now it was a wonderful fountain, with plunging
horses and colossal nymphs and Tritons, holding cups and horns from
which showers of white foam rose high in air to fall like rushing rain
into an immense marble basin. Now it was an arched doorway with
traceries as fine as lace,--sole-remaining fragment of a heathen temple,
flung and stranded as it were by the waves of time on the squalid shore
of the present. Now it was a shrine at the meeting of three streets,
where a dim lamp burned beneath the effigy of the Madonna, with always a
fresh rose beside it in a vase, and at its foot a peasant woman kneeling
in red bodice and blue petticoat, with a lace-trimmed towel folded over
her hair. Or again it would be a sunlit terrace lifted high on a
hillside, and crowded with carriages full of beautifully dressed people,
while below all Rome seemed spread out like a panorama, dim, mighty,
majestic, and bounded by the blue wavy line of the Campagna and the
Alban hills. Or perhaps it might be a wonderful double flight of steps
with massive balustrades and pillars with urns, on which sat a crowd of
figures in strange costumes and attitudes, who all looked as though they
had stepped out of pictures, but who were in reality models waiting for
artists to come by and engage them. No matter what it was,--a bit of
oddly tinted masonry with a tuft of brown and orange wallflowers hanging
upon it, or a vegetable stall where endive and chiccory and curly
lettuces were arranged in wreaths with tiny orange gourds and scarlet
peppers for points of color,--it was all Rome, and, by virtue of that
word, different from any other place,--more suggestive, more
interesting, ten times more mysterious than any other could possibly be,
so Katy thought.

This fact consoled her for everything and anything,--for the fleas, the
dirt, for the queer things they had to eat and the still queerer odors
they were forced to smell! Nothing seemed of any particular consequence
except the deep sense of enjoyment, and the newly discovered world of
thought and sensation of which she had become suddenly conscious.

The only drawback to her happiness, as the days went on, was that
little Amy did not seem quite well or like herself. She had taken a
cold on the journey from Naples, and though it did not seem serious,
that, or something, made her look pale and thin. Her mother said she
was growing fast, but the explanation did not quite account for the
wistful look in the child's eyes and the tired feeling of which she
continually complained. Mrs. Ashe, with vague uneasiness, began to talk
of cutting short their Roman stay and getting Amy off to the more
bracing air of Florence. But meanwhile there was the Carnival close at
hand, which they must by no means lose; and the feeling that their
opportunity might be a brief one made her and Katy all the more anxious
to make the very most of their time. So they filled the days full with
sights to see and things to do, and came and went; sometimes taking Amy
with them, but more often leaving her at the hotel under the care of a
kind German chambermaid, who spoke pretty good English and to whom Amy
had taken a fancy.

"The marble things are so cold, and the old broken things make me so
sorry," she explained; "and I hate beggars because they are dirty, and
the stairs make my back ache; and I'd a great deal rather stay with
Maria and go up on the roof, if you don't mind, mamma."

This roof, which Amy had chosen as a playplace, covered the whole of the
great hotel, and had been turned into a sort of upper-air garden by the
simple process of gravelling it all over, placing trellises of ivy here
and there, and setting tubs of oranges and oleanders and boxes of gay
geraniums and stock-gillyflowers on the balustrades. A tame fawn was
tethered there. Amy adopted him as a playmate; and what with his company
and that of the flowers, the times when her mother and Katy were absent
from her passed not unhappily.

Katy always repaired to the roof as soon as they came in from their long
mornings and afternoons of sight-seeing. Years afterward, she would
remember with contrition how pathetically glad Amy always was to see
her. She would put her little head on Katy's breast and hold her tight
for many minutes without saying a word. When she did speak it was always
about the house and the garden that she talked. She never asked any
questions as to where Katy had been, or what she had done; it seemed to
tire her to think about it.

"I should be very lonely sometimes if it were not for my dear little
fawn," she told Katy once. "He is so sweet that I don't miss you and
mamma very much while I have him to play with. I call him Florio,--don't
you think that is a pretty name? I like to stay with him a great deal
better than to go about with you to those nasty-smelling old churches,
with fleas hopping all over them!"

So Amy was left in peace with her fawn, and the others made haste to see
all they could before the time came to go to Florence.

[Illustration: Amy was left in peace with her fawn.]

Katy realized one of the "moments" for which she had come to Europe when
she stood for the first time on the balcony overhanging the Corso, which
Mrs. Ashe had hired in company with some acquaintances made at the
hotel, and looked down at the ebb and surge of the just-begun Carnival.
The narrow street seemed humming with people of all sorts and
conditions. Some were masked; some were not. There were ladies and
gentlemen in fashionable clothes, peasants in the gayest costumes,
surprised-looking tourists in tall hats and linen dusters, harlequins,
clowns, devils, nuns, dominoes of every color,--red, white, blue, black;
while above, the balconies bloomed like a rose-garden with pretty faces
framed in lace veils or picturesque hats. Flowers were everywhere,
wreathed along the house-fronts, tied to the horses' ears, in ladies'
hands and gentlemen's button-holes, while venders went up and down the
street bearing great trays of violets and carnations and camellias for
sale. The air was full of cries and laughter, and the shrill calls of
merchants advertising their wares,--candy, fruit, birds, lanterns, and
_confetti_, the latter being merely lumps of lime, large or small, with
a pea or a bean embedded in each lump to give it weight. Boxes full of
this unpleasant confection were suspended in front of each balcony, with
tin scoops to use in ladling it out and flinging it about. Everybody
wore or carried a wire mask as protection against this white, incessant
shower; and before long the air became full of a fine dust which hung
above the Corso like a mist, and filled the eyes and noses and clothes
of all present with irritating particles.

Pasquino's Car was passing underneath just as Katy and Mrs. Ashe
arrived,--a gorgeous affair, hung with silken draperies, and bearing as
symbol an enormous egg, in which the Carnival was supposed to be in act
of incubation. A huge wagon followed in its wake, on which was a house
some sixteen feet square, whose sole occupant was a gentleman attended
by five servants, who kept him supplied with _confetti_, which he
showered liberally on the heads of the crowd. Then came a car in the
shape of a steamboat, with a smoke-pipe and sails, over which flew the
Union Jack, and which was manned with a party wearing the dress of
British tars. The next wagon bore a company of jolly maskers equipped
with many-colored bladders, which they banged and rattled as they went
along. Following this was a troupe of beautiful circus horses,
cream-colored with scarlet trappings, or sorrel with blue, ridden by
ladies in pale green velvet laced with silver, or blue velvet and gold.
Another car bore a bird-cage which was an exact imitation of St.
Peter's, within which perched a lonely old parrot. This device evidently
had a political signification, for it was alternately hissed and
applauded as it went along. The whole scene was like a brilliant,
rapidly shifting dream; and Katy, as she stood with lips apart and eyes
wide open with wonderment and pleasure, forgot whether she was in the
body or not,--forgot everything except what was passing before her gaze.

She was roused by a stinging shower of lime-dust. An Englishman in the
next balcony had take courteous advantage of her preoccupation, and had
flung a scoopful of _confetti_ in her undefended face! It is generally
Anglo-Saxons of the less refined class, English or Americans, who do
these things at Carnival times. The national love of a rough joke comes
to the surface, encouraged by the license of the moment, and all the
grace and prettiness of the festival vanish. Katy laughed, and dusted
herself as well as she could, and took refuge behind her mask; while a
nimble American boy of the party changed places with her, and
thenceforward made that particular Englishman his special target, plying
such a lively and adroit shovel as to make Katy's assailant rue the hour
when he evoked this national reprisal. His powdered head and rather
clumsy efforts to retaliate excited shouts of laughter from the
adjoining balconies. The young American, fresh from tennis and college
athletics, darted about and dodged with an agility impossible to his
heavily built foe; and each effective shot and parry on his side was
greeted with little cries of applause and the clapping of hands on the
part of those who were watching the contest.

Exactly opposite them was a balcony hung with white silk, in which sat a
lady who seemed to be of some distinction; for every now and then an
officer in brilliant uniform, or some official covered with orders and
stars, would be shown in by her servants, bow before her with the utmost
deference, and after a little conversation retire, kissing her gloved
hand as he went. The lady was a beautiful person, with lustrous black
eyes and dark hair, over which a lace mantilla was fastened with diamond
stars. She wore pale blue with white flowers, and altogether, as Katy
afterward wrote to Clover, reminded her exactly of one of those
beautiful princesses whom they used to play about in their childhood and
quarrel over, because every one of them wanted to be the Princess and
nobody else.

"I wonder who she is," said Mrs. Ashe in a low tone. "She might be
almost anybody from her looks. She keeps glancing across to us, Katy. Do
you know, I think she has taken a fancy to you."

Perhaps the lady had; for just then she turned her head and said a word
to one of her footmen, who immediately placed something in her hand. It
was a little shining bonbonniere, and rising she threw it straight at
Katy. Alas! it struck the edge of the balcony and fell into the street
below, where it was picked up by a ragged little peasant girl in a red
jacket, who raised a pair of astonished eyes to the heavens, as if sure
that the gift must have fallen straight from thence. Katy bent forward
to watch its fate, and went through a little pantomime of regret and
despair for the benefit of the opposite lady, who only laughed, and
taking another from her servant flung with better aim, so that it fell
exactly at Katy's feet. This was a gilded box in the shape of a
mandolin, with sugar-plums tucked cunningly away inside. Katy kissed
both her hands in acknowledgment for the pretty toy, and tossed back a
bunch of roses which she happened to be wearing in her dress. After that
it seemed the chief amusement of the fair unknown to throw bonbons at
Katy. Some went straight and some did not; but before the afternoon
ended, Katy had quite a lapful of confections and trifles,--roses,
sugared almonds, a satin casket, a silvered box in the shape of a
horseshoe, a tiny cage with orange blossoms for birds on the perches, a
minute gondola with a _marron glacée_ by way of passenger, and,
prettiest of all, a little ivory harp strung with enamelled violets
instead of wires. For all these favors she had nothing better to offer,
in return, than a few long-tailed bonbons with gay streamers of ribbon.
These the lady opposite caught very cleverly, rarely missing one, and
kissing her hand in thanks each time.

"Isn't she exquisite?" demanded Katy, her eyes shining with
excitement. "Did you ever see any one so lovely in your life, Polly
dear? I never did. There, now! she is buying those birds to set them
free, I do believe."

It was indeed so. A vender of larks had, by the aid of a long staff,
thrust a cage full of wretched little prisoners up into the balcony; and
"Katy's lady," as Mrs. Ashe called her, was paying for the whole. As
they watched she opened the cage door, and with the sweetest look on her
face encouraged the birds to fly away. The poor little creatures cowered
and hesitated, not knowing at first what use to make of their new
liberty; but at last one, the boldest of the company, hopped to the door
and with a glad, exultant chirp flew straight upward. Then the others,
taking courage from his example, followed, and all were lost to view in
the twinkling of an eye.

"Oh, you angel!" cried Katy, leaning over the edge of the balcony and
kissing both hands impulsively, "I never saw any one so sweet as you are
in my life. Polly dear, I think carnivals are the most perfectly
bewitching things in the world. How glad I am that this lasts a week,
and that we can come every day. Won't Amy be delighted with these
bonbons! I do hope my lady will be here tomorrow."

How little she dreamed that she was never to enter that balcony again!
How little can any of us see what lies before us till it comes so near
that we cannot help seeing it, or shut our eyes, or turn away!

The next morning, almost as soon as it was light, Mrs. Ashe tapped at
Katy's door. She was in her dressing-gown, and her eyes looked large and
frightened.

"Amy is ill," she cried. "She has been hot and feverish all night, and
she says that her head aches dreadfully. What shall I do, Katy? We
ought to have a doctor at once, and I don't know the name even of any
doctor here."

Katy sat up in bed, and for one bewildered moment did not speak. Her
brain felt in a whirl of confusion; but presently it cleared, and she
saw what to do.

"I will write a note to Mrs. Sands," she said. Mrs. Sands was the wife
of the American Minister, and one of the few acquaintances they had
made since they came to Rome. "You remember how nice she was the other
day, and how we liked her; and she has lived here so long that of
course she must know all about the doctors. Don't you think that is the
best thing to do!"

"The very best," said Mrs. Ashe, looking relieved. "I wonder I did not
think of it myself, but I am so confused that I can't think. Write the
note at once, please, dear Katy. I will ring your bell for you, and then
I must hurry back to Amy."

Katy made haste with the note. The answer came promptly in half an hour,
and by ten o'clock the physician recommended appeared. Dr. Hilary was a
dark little Italian to all appearance; but his mother had been a
Scotch-woman, and he spoke English very well,--a great comfort to poor
Mrs. Ashe, who knew not a word of Italian and not a great deal of
French. He felt Amy's pulse for a long time, and tested her temperature;
but he gave no positive opinion, only left a prescription, and said that
he would call later in the day and should then be able to judge more
clearly what the attack was likely to prove.

Katy augured ill from this reserve. There was no talk of going to the
Carnival that afternoon; no one had any heart for it. Instead, Katy
spent the time in trying to recollect all she had ever heard about the
care of sick people,--what was to be done first and what next,--and in
searching the shops for a feather pillow, which luxury Amy was
imperiously demanding. The pillows of Roman hotels are, as a general
thing, stuffed with wool, and very hard.

"I won't have this horrid pillow any longer," poor Amy was screaming.
"It's got bricks in it. It hurts the back of my neck. Take it away,
mamma, and give me a nice soft American pillow. I won't have this a
minute longer. Don't you hear me, mamma! Take it away!"

So, while Mrs. Ashe pacified Amy to the best of her ability, Katy
hurried out in quest of the desired pillow. It proved almost an
unattainable luxury; but at last, after a long search, she secured an
air-cushion, a down cushion about twelve inches square, and one old
feather pillow which had come from some auction, and had apparently lain
for years in the corner of the shop. When this was encased in a fresh
cover of Canton flannel, it did very well, and stilled Amy's complaints
a little; but all night she grew worse, and when Dr. Hilary came next
day, he was forced to utter plainly the dreaded words "Roman fever." Amy
was in for an attack,--a light one he hoped it might be,--but they had
better know the truth and make ready for it.

Mrs. Ashe was utterly overwhelmed by this verdict, and for the first
bewildered moments did not know which way to turn. Katy, happily, kept
a steadier head. She had the advantage of a little preparation of
thought, and had decided beforehand what it would be necessary to do
"in case." Oh, that fateful "in case"! The doctor and she consulted
together, and the result was that Katy sought out the padrona of the
establishment, and without hinting at the nature of Amy's attack,
secured some rooms just vacated, which were at the end of a corridor,
and a little removed from the rooms of other people. There was a large
room with corner windows, a smaller one opening from it, and another,
still smaller, close by, which would serve as a storeroom or might do
for the use of a nurse.

These rooms, without much consultation with Mrs. Ashe,--who seemed
stunned and sat with her eyes fixed on Amy, just answering, "Certainly,
dear, anything you say," when applied to,--Katy had arranged according
to her own ideas of comfort and hygienic necessity, as learned from Miss
Nightingale's excellent little book on nursing. From the larger room she
had the carpet, curtains, and nearly all the furniture taken away, the
floor scrubbed with hot soapsuds, and the bed pulled out from the wall
to allow of a free circulation of air all round it. The smaller one she
made as comfortable as possible for the use of Mrs. Ashe, choosing for
it the softest sofa and the best mattresses that were obtainable; for
she knew that her friend's strength was likely to be severely tried if
Amy's illness proved serious. When all was ready, Amy, well wrapped in
her coverings, was carried down the entry and laid in the fresh bed with
the soft pillows about her; and Katy, as she went to and fro, conveying
clothes and books and filling drawers, felt that they were perhaps
making arrangements for a long, hard trial of faith and spirits.

By the next day the necessity of a nurse became apparent, and in the
afternoon Katy started out in a little hired carriage in search of one.
She had a list of names, and went first to the English nurses; but
finding them all engaged, she ordered the coachman to drive to a convent
where there was hope that a nursing sister might be procured.

Their route lay across the Corso. So utterly had the Carnival with all
its gay follies vanished from her mind, that she was for a moment
astonished at finding herself entangled in a motley crowd, so dense
that the coachman was obliged to rein in his horses and stand still for
some time.

There were the same masks and dominos, the same picturesque peasant
costumes which had struck her as so gay and pretty only three days
before. The same jests and merry laughter filled the air, but somehow
it all seemed out of tune. The sense of cold, lonely fear that had
taken possession of her killed all capacity for merriment; the
apprehension and solicitude of which her heart was full made the gay
chattering and squeaking of the crowd sound harsh and unfeeling. The
bright colors affronted her dejection; she did not want to see them.
She lay back in the carriage, trying to be patient under the detention,
and half shut her eyes.

A shower of lime dust aroused her. It came from a party of burly figures
in white cotton dominos, whose carriage had been stayed by the crowd
close to her own. She signified by gestures that she had no _confetti_
and no protection, that she "was not playing," in fact; but her appeal
made no difference. The maskers kept on shovelling lime all over her
hair and person and the carriage, and never tired of the sport till an
opportune break in the procession enabled their vehicle to move on.

Katy was shaking their largesse from her dress and parasol as well as
she could, when an odd gibbering sound close to her ear, and the
laughter of the crowd attracted her attention to the back of the
carriage. A masker attired as a scarlet devil had climbed into the hood,
and was now perched close behind her. She shook her head at him; but he
only shook his in return, and chattered and grimaced, and bent over till
his fiery mask almost grazed her shoulder. There was no hope but in good
humor, as she speedily realized; and recollecting that in her
shopping-bag one or two of the Carnival bonbons still remained, she took
these out and offered them in the hope of propitiating him. The fiend
bit one to insure that it was made of sugar and not lime, while the
crowd laughed more than ever; then, seeming satisfied, he made Katy a
little speech in rapid Italian, of which she did not comprehend a word,
kissed her hand, jumped down from the carriage and disappeared in the
crowd to her great relief.

Presently after that the driver spied an opening, of which he took
advantage. They were across the Corso now, the roar and rush of the
Carnival dying into silence as they drove rapidly on; and Katy, as she
finished wiping away the last of the lime dust, wiped some tears from
her cheeks as well.

"How hateful it all was!" she said to herself. Then she remembered a
sentence read somewhere, "How heavily roll the wheels of other people's
joys when your heart is sorrowful!" and she realized that it is true.

The convent was propitious, and promised to send a sister next morning,
with the proviso that every second day she was to come back to sleep and
rest. Katy was too thankful for any aid to make objections, and drove
home with visions of saintly nuns with pure pale faces full of peace and
resignation, such as she had read of in books, floating before her eyes.

Sister Ambrogia, when she appeared next day, did not exactly realize
these imaginations. She was a plump little person, with rosy cheeks, a
pair of demure black eyes, and a very obstinate mouth and chin. It soon
appeared that natural inclination combined with the rules of her convent
made her theory of a nurse's duties a very limited one.

If Mrs. Ashe wished her to go down to the office with an order, she was
told: "We sisters care for the sick; we are not allowed to converse with
porters and hotel people."

If Katy suggested that on the way home she should leave a prescription
at the chemist's, it was: "We sisters are for nursing only; we do not
visit shops." And when she was asked if she could make beef tea, she
replied calmly but decisively, "We sisters are not cooks."

In fact, all that Sister Ambrogia seemed able or willing to do, beyond
the bathing of Amy's face and brushing her hair, which she accomplished
handily, was to sit by the bedside telling her rosary, or plying a
little ebony shuttle in the manufacture of a long strip of tatting. Even
this amount of usefulness was interfered with by the fact that Amy, who
by this time was in a semi-delirious condition, had taken an aversion to
her at the first glance, and was not willing to be left with her for a
single moment.

"I won't stay here alone with Sister Embroidery," she would cry, if her
mother and Katy went into the next room for a moment's rest or a private
consultation; "I hate Sister Embroidery! Come back, mamma, come back
this moment! She's making faces at me, and chattering just like an old
parrot, and I don't understand a word she says. Take Sister Embroidery
away, mamma, I tell you! Don't you hear me? Come back, I say!"

The little voice would be raised to a shrill scream; and Mrs. Ashe and
Katy, hurrying back, would find Amy sitting up on her pillow with wet,
scarlet-flushed cheeks and eyes bright with fever, ready to throw
herself out of bed; while, calm as Mabel, whose curly head lay on the
pillow beside her little mistress, Sister Ambrogia, unaware of the
intricacies of the English language, was placidly telling her beads and
muttering prayers to herself. Some of these prayers, I do not doubt,
related to Amy's recovery if not to her conversion, and were well meant;
but they were rather irritating under the circumstances!



CHAPTER X.

CLEAR SHINING AFTER RAIN.


When the first shock is over and the inevitable realized and accepted,
those who tend a long illness are apt to fall into a routine of life
which helps to make the days seem short. The apparatus of nursing is got
together. Every day the same things need to be done at the same hours
and in the same way. Each little appliance is kept at hand; and sad and
tired as the watchers may be, the very monotony and regularity of their
proceedings give a certain stay for their thoughts to rest upon.

But there was little of this monotony to help Mrs. Ashe and Katy through
with Amy's illness. Small chance was there for regularity or exact
system; for something unexpected was always turning up, and needful
things were often lacking. The most ordinary comforts of the sick-room,
or what are considered so in America, were hard to come by, and much of
Katy's time was spent in devising substitutes to take their places.

Was ice needed? A pailful of dirty snow would be brought in, full of
straws, sticks, and other refuse, which had apparently been scraped from
the surface of the street after a frosty night. Not a particle of it
could be put into milk or water; all that could be done was to make the
pail serve the purpose of a refrigerator, and set bowls and tumblers in
it to chill.

Was a feeding-cup wanted? It came of a cumbrous and antiquated pattern,
which the infant Hercules may have enjoyed, but which the modern Amy
abominated and rejected. Such a thing as a glass tube could not be found
in all Rome. Bed-rests were unknown. Katy searched in vain for an
India-rubber hot-water bag.

But the greatest trial of all was the beef tea. It was Amy's sole food,
and almost her only medicine; for Dr. Hilary believed in leaving Nature
pretty much to herself in cases of fever. The kitchen of the hotel sent
up, under that name, a mixture of grease and hot water, which could not
be given to Amy at all. In vain Katy remonstrated and explained the
process. In vain did she go to the kitchen herself to translate a
carefully written recipe to the cook, and to slip a shining five-franc
piece in his hand, which it was hoped would quicken his energies and
soften his heart. In vain did she order private supplies of the best of
beef from a separate market. The cooks stole the beef and ignored the
recipe; and day after day the same bottle-full of greasy liquid came
upstairs, which Amy would not touch, and which would have done her no
good had she swallowed it all. At last, driven to desperation, Katy
procured a couple of stout bottles, and every morning slowly and
carefully cut up two pounds of meat into small pieces, sealed the bottle
with her own seal ring, and sent it down to be boiled for a specified
time. This answered better, for the thieving cook dared not tamper with
her seal; but it was a long and toilsome process, and consumed more time
than she well knew how to spare,--for there were continual errands to be
done which no one could attend to but herself, and the interminable
flights of stairs taxed her strength painfully, and seemed to grow
longer and harder every day.

At last a good Samaritan turned up in the shape of an American lady with
a house of her own, who, hearing of their plight from Mrs. Sands,
undertook to send each day a supply of strong, perfectly made beef tea,
from her own kitchen, for Amy's use. It was an inexpressible relief, and
the lightening of this one particular care made all the rest seem easier
of endurance.

Another great relief came, when, after some delay, Dr. Hilary succeeded
in getting an English nurse to take the places of the unsatisfactory
Sister Ambrogia and her substitute, Sister Agatha, whom Amy in her
half-comprehending condition persisted in calling "Sister Nutmeg
Grater." Mrs. Swift was a tall, wiry, angular person, who seemed made of
equal parts of iron and whalebone. She was never tired; she could lift
anybody, do anything; and for sleep she seemed to have a sort of
antipathy, preferring to sit in an easy-chair and drop off into little
dozes, whenever it was convenient, to going regularly to bed for a
night's rest.

Amy took to her from the first, and the new nurse managed her
beautifully. No one else could soothe her half so well during the
delirious period, when the little shrill voice seemed never to be still,
and went on all day and all night in alternate raving or screaming or,
what was saddest of all to hear, low pitiful moans. There was no
shutting in these sounds. People moved out of the rooms below and on
either side, because they could get no sleep; and till the arrival of
Nurse Swift, there was no rest for poor Mrs. Ashe, who could not keep
away from her darling for a moment while that mournful wailing sounded
in her ears.

Somehow the long, dry Englishwoman seemed to have a mesmeric effect on
Amy, who was never quite so violent after she arrived. Katy was more
thankful for this than can well be told; for her great underlying
dread--a dread she dared not whisper plainly even to herself--was that
"Polly dear" might break down before Amy was better, and then what
_should_ they do?

She took every care that was possible of her friend. She made her eat;
she made her lie down. She forced daily doses of quinine and port-wine
down her throat, and saved her every possible step. But no one, however
affectionate and willing, could do much to lift the crushing burden of
care, which was changing Mrs. Ashe's rosy fairness to wan pallor and
laying such dark shadows under the pretty gray eyes. She had taken small
thought of looks since Amy's illness. All the little touches which had
made her toilette becoming, all the crimps and fluffs, had disappeared;
yet somehow never had she seemed to Katy half so lovely as now in the
plain black gown which she wore all day long, with her hair tucked into
a knot behind her ears. Her real beauty of feature and outline seemed
only enhanced by the rigid plainness of her attire, and the charm of
true expression grew in her face. Never had Katy admired and loved her
friend so well as during those days of fatigue and wearing suspense, or
realized so strongly the worth of her sweetness of temper, her
unselfishness and power of devoting herself to other people.

"Polly bears it wonderfully," she wrote her father; "she was all broken
down for the first day or two, but now her courage and patience are
surprising. When I think how precious Amy is to her and how lonely her
life would be if she were to die, I can hardly keep the tears out of my
eyes. But Polly does not cry. She is quiet and brave and almost cheerful
all the time, keeping herself busy with what needs to be done; she never
complains, and she looks--oh, so pretty! I think I never knew how much
she had in her before."

All this time no word had come from Lieutenant Worthington. His sister
had written him as soon as Amy was taken ill, and had twice telegraphed
since, but no answer had been received, and this strange silence added
to the sense of lonely isolation and distance from home and help which
those who encounter illness in a foreign land have to bear.

So first one week and then another wore themselves away somehow. The
fever did not break on the fourteenth day, as had been hoped, and must
run for another period, the doctor said; but its force was lessened, and
he considered that a favorable sign. Amy was quieter now and did not
rave so constantly, but she was very weak. All her pretty hair had been
shorn away, which made her little face look tiny and sharp. Mabel's
golden wig was sacrificed at the same time. Amy had insisted upon it,
and they dared not cross her.

"She has got a fever, too, and it's a great deal badder than mine is,"
she protested. "Her cheeks are as hot as fire. She ought to have ice on
her head, and how can she when her bang is so thick? Cut it all off,
every bit, and then I will let you cut mine."

"You had better give ze child her way," said Dr. Hilary. "She's in no
state to be fretted with triffles [trifles, the doctor meant], and in ze
end it will be well; for ze fever infection might harbor in zat doll's
head as well as elsewhere, and I should have to disinfect it, which
would be bad for ze skin of her."

"She isn't a doll," cried Amy, overhearing him; "she's my child, and you
sha'n't call her names." She hugged Mabel tight in her arms, and glared
at Dr. Hilary defiantly.

So Katy with pitiful fingers slashed away at Mabel's blond wig till her
head was as bare as a billiard-ball; and Amy, quite content, patted her
child while her own locks were being cut, and murmured, "Perhaps your
hair will all come out in little round curls, darling, as Johnnie Carr's
did;" then she fell into one of the quietest sleeps she had yet had.

It was the day after this that Katy, coming in from a round of errands,
found Mrs. Ashe standing erect and pale, with a frightened look in her
eyes, and her back against Amy's door, as if defending it from somebody.
Confronting her was Madame Frulini, the _padrona_ of the hotel. Madame's
cheeks were red, and her eyes bright and fierce; she was evidently in a
rage about something, and was pouring out a torrent of excited Italian,
with now and then a French or English word slipped in by way of
punctuation, and all so rapidly that only a trained ear could have
followed or grasped her meaning.

"What is the matter?" asked Katy, in amazement.

"Oh, Katy, I am so glad you have come," cried poor Mrs. Ashe. "I can
hardly understand a word that this horrible woman says, but I think she
wants to turn us out of the hotel, and that we shall take Amy to some
other place. It would be the death of her,--I know it would. I never,
never will go, unless the doctor says it is safe. I oughtn't to,--I
couldn't; she can't make me, can she, Katy?"

"Madame," said Katy,--and there was a flash in her eyes before which the
landlady rather shrank,--"what is all this? Why do you come to trouble
madame while her child is so ill?"

Then came another torrent of explanation which didn't explain; but Katy
gathered enough of the meaning to make out that Mrs. Ashe was quite
correct in her guess, and that Madame Frulini was requesting, nay,
insisting, that they should remove Amy from the hotel at once. There
were plenty of apartments to be had now that the Carnival was over, she
said,--her own cousin had rooms close by,--it could easily be arranged,
and people were going away from the Del Mondo every day because there
was fever in the house. Such a thing could not be, it should not
be,--the landlady's voice rose to a shriek, "the child must go!"

"You are a cruel woman," said Katy, indignantly, when she had grasped
the meaning of the outburst. "It is wicked, it is cowardly, to come thus
and attack a poor lady under your roof who has so much already to bear.
It is her only child who is lying in there,--her only one, do you
understand, madame?--and she is a widow. What you ask might kill the
child. I shall not permit you or any of your people to enter that door
till the doctor comes, and then I shall tell him how you have behaved,
and we shall see what he will say." As she spoke she turned the key of
Amy's door, took it out and put it in her pocket, then faced the
_padrona_ steadily, looking her straight in the eyes.

"Mademoiselle," stormed the landlady, "I give you my word, four people
have left this house already because of the noises made by little miss.
More will go. I shall lose my winter's profit,--all of it,--all; it will
be said there is fever at the Del Mondo,--no one will hereafter come to
me. There are lodgings plenty, comfortable,--oh, so comfortable! I will
not have my season ruined by a sickness; no, I will not!"

Madame Frulini's voice was again rising to a scream.

"Be silent!" said Katy, sternly; "you will frighten the child. I am
sorry that you should lose any customers, madame, but the fever is here
and we are here, and here we must stay till it is safe to go. The child
shall not be moved till the doctor gives permission. Money is not the
only thing in the world! Mrs. Ashe will pay anything that is fair to
make up your losses to you, but you must leave this room now, and not
return till Dr. Hilary is here."

Where Katy found French for all these long coherent speeches, she could
never afterward imagine. She tried to explain it by saying that
excitement inspired her for the moment, but that as soon as the moment
was over the inspiration died away and left her as speechless and
confused as ever. Clover said it made her think of the miracle of
Balaam; and Katy merrily rejoined that it might be so, and that no
donkey in any age of the world could possibly have been more grateful
than was she for the sudden gift of speech.

"But it is not the money,--it is my prestige," declared the landlady.

"Thank Heaven! here is the doctor now," cried Mrs. Ashe.

The doctor had in fact been standing in the doorway for several moments
before they noticed him, and had overheard part of the colloquy with
Madame Frulini. With him was some one else, at the sight of whom Mrs.
Ashe gave a great sob of relief. It was her brother, at last.

When Italian meets Italian, then comes the tug of expletive. It did not
seem to take one second for Dr. Hilary to whirl the _padrona_ out into
the entry, where they could be heard going at each other like two
furious cats. Hiss, roll, sputter, recrimination, objurgation! In five
minutes Madame Frulini was, metaphorically speaking, on her knees, and
the doctor standing over her with drawn sword, making her take back
every word she had said and every threat she had uttered.

"Prestige of thy miserable hotel!" he thundered; "where will that be
when I go and tell the English and Americans--all of whom I know, every
one!--how thou hast served a countrywoman of theirs in thy house? Dost
thou think thy prestige will help thee much when Dr. Hilary has fixed a
black mark on thy door! I tell thee no; not a stranger shalt thou have
next year to eat so much as a plate of macaroni under thy base roof! I
will advertise thy behavior in all the foreign papers,--in Figaro, in
Galignani, in the Swiss Times, and the English one which is read by all
the nobility, and the Heraldo of New York, which all Americans peruse--"

"Oh, doctor--pardon me--I regret what I said--I am afflicted--"

"I will post thee in the railroad stations," continued the doctor,
implacably; "I will bid my patients to write letters to all their
friends, warning them against thy flea-ridden Del Mondo; I will apprise
the steamboat companies at Genoa and Naples. Thou shalt see what comes
of it,--truly, thou shalt see."

Having thus reduced Madame Frulini to powder, the doctor now
condescended to take breath and listen to her appeals for mercy; and
presently he brought her in with her mouth full of protestations and
apologies, and assurances that the ladies had mistaken her meaning, she
had only spoken for the good of all; nothing was further from her
intention than that they should be disturbed or offended in any way, and
she and all her household were at the service of "the little sick angel
of God." After which the doctor dismissed her with an air of
contemptuous tolerance, and laid his hand on the door of Amy's room.
Behold, it was locked!

"Oh, I forgot," cried Katy, laughing; and she pulled the key out of
her pocket.

"You are a hee-roine, mademoiselle," said Dr. Hilary. "I watched you as
you faced that tigress, and your eyes were like a swordsman's as he
regards his enemy's rapier."

"Oh, she was so brave, and such a help!" said Mrs. Ashe, kissing her
impulsively. "You can't think how she has stood by me all through, Ned,
or what a comfort she has been."

"Yes, I can," said Ned Worthington, with a warm, grateful look at Katy.
"I can believe anything good of Miss Carr."

"But where have _you_ been all this time?" said Katy, who felt this
flood of compliment to be embarrassing; "we have so wondered at not
hearing from you."

"I have been off on a ten-days' leave to Corsica for moufflon-shooting,"
replied Mr. Worthington. "I only got Polly's telegrams and letters day
before yesterday, and I came away as soon as I could get my leave
extended. It was a most unlucky absence. I shall always regret it."

"Oh, it is all right now that you have come," his sister said, leaning
her head on his arm with a look of relief and rest which was good to
see. "Everything will go better now, I am sure."

"Katy Carr has behaved like a perfect angel," she told her brother when
they were alone.

"She is a trump of a girl. I came in time for part of that scene with
the landlady, and upon my word she was glorious! I didn't suppose she
could look so handsome."

"Have the Pages left Nice yet?" asked his sister, rather irrelevantly.

"No,--at least they were there on Thursday, but I think that they were
to start to-day."

Mr. Worthington answered carelessly, but his face darkened as he spoke.
There had been a little scene in Nice which he could not forget. He was
sitting in the English garden with Lilly and her mother when his
sister's telegrams were brought to him; and he had read them aloud,
partly as an explanation for the immediate departure which they made
necessary and which broke up an excursion just arranged with the ladies
for the afternoon. It is not pleasant to have plans interfered with; and
as neither Mrs. Page nor her daughter cared personally for little Amy,
it is not strange that disappointment at the interruption of their
pleasure should have been the first impulse with them. Still, this did
not excuse Lilly's unstudied exclamation of "Oh, bother!" and though she
speedily repented it as an indiscretion, and was properly sympathetic,
and "hoped the poor little thing would soon be better," Amy's uncle
could not forget the jarring impression. It completed a process of
disenchantment which had long been going on; and as hearts are sometimes
caught at the rebound, Mrs. Ashe was not so far astray when she built
certain little dim sisterly hopes on his evident admiration for Katy's
courage and this sudden awakening to a sense of her good looks.

But no space was left for sentiment or match-making while still Amy's
fate hung in the balance, and all three of them found plenty to do
during the next fortnight. The fever did not turn on the twenty-first
day, and another weary week of suspense set in, each day bringing a
decrease of the dangerous symptoms, but each day as well marking a
lessening in the childish strength which had been so long and severely
tested. Amy was quite conscious now, and lay quietly, sleeping a great
deal and speaking seldom. There was not much to do but to wait and hope;
but the flame of hope burned low at times, as the little life flickered
in its socket, and seemed likely to go out like a wind-blown torch.

Now and then Lieutenant Worthington would persuade his sister to go
with him for a few minutes' drive or walk in the fresh air, from which
she had so long been debarred, and once or twice he prevailed on Katy
to do the same; but neither of them could bear to be away long from
Amy's bedside.

Intimacy grows fast when people are thus united by a common anxiety,
sharing the same hopes and fears day after day, speaking and thinking of
the same thing. The gay young officer at Nice, who had counted so little
in Katy's world, seemed to have disappeared, and the gentle,
considerate, tender-hearted fellow who now filled his place was quite a
different person in her eyes. Katy began to count on Ned Worthington as
a friend who could be trusted for help and sympathy and comprehension,
and appealed to and relied upon in all emergencies. She was quite at
ease with him now, and asked him to do this and that, to come and help
her, or to absent himself, as freely as if he had been Dorry or Phil.

He, on his part, found this easy intimacy charming. In the reaction of
his temporary glamour for the pretty Lilly, Katy's very difference from
her was an added attraction. This difference consisted, as much as
anything else, in the fact that she was so truly in earnest in what she
said and did. Had Lilly been in Katy's place, she would probably have
been helpful to Mrs. Ashe and kind to Amy so far as in her lay; but the
thought of self would have tinctured all that she did and said, and the
need of keeping to what was tasteful and becoming would have influenced
her in every emergency, and never have been absent from her mind.

Katy, on the contrary, absorbed in the needs of the moment, gave little
heed to how she looked or what any one was thinking about her. Her habit
of neatness made her take time for the one thorough daily dressing,--the
brushing of hair and freshening of clothes, which were customary with
her; but, this tax paid to personal comfort, she gave little further
heed to appearances. She wore an old gray gown, day in and day out,
which Lilly would not have put on for half an hour without a large
bribe, so unbecoming was it; but somehow Lieutenant Worthington grew to
like the gray gown as a part of Katy herself. And if by chance he
brought a rose in to cheer the dim stillness of the sick-room, and she
tucked it into her buttonhole, immediately it was as though she were
decked for conquest. Pretty dresses are very pretty on pretty
people,--they certainly play an important part in this queer little
world of ours; but depend upon it, dear girls, no woman ever has
established so distinct and clear a claim on the regard of her lover as
when he has ceased to notice or analyze what she wears, and just accepts
it unquestioningly, whatever it is, as a bit of the dear human life
which has grown or is growing to be the best and most delightful thing
in the world to him.

The gray gown played its part during the long anxious night when they
all sat watching breathlessly to see which way the tide would turn with
dear little Amy. The doctor came at midnight, and went away to come
again at dawn. Mrs. Swift sat grim and watchful beside the pillow of her
charge, rising now and then to feel pulse and skin, or to put a spoonful
of something between Amy's lips. The doors and windows stood open to
admit the air. In the outer room all was hushed. A dim Roman lamp, fed
with olive oil, burned in one corner behind a screen. Mrs. Ashe lay on
the sofa with her eyes closed, bearing the strain of suspense in
absolute silence. Her brother sat beside her, holding in his one of the
hot hands whose nervous twitches alone told of the surgings of hope and
fear within. Katy was resting in a big chair near by, her wistful eyes
fixed on Amy's little figure seen in the dim distance, her ears alert
for every sound from the sick-room.

So they watched and waited. Now and then Ned Worthington or Katy would
rise softly, steal on tiptoe to the bedside, and come back to whisper to
Mrs. Ashe that Amy had stirred or that she seemed to be asleep. It was
one of the nights which do not come often in a lifetime, and which
people never forget. The darkness seems full of meaning; the hush, of
sound. God is beyond, holding the sunrise in his right hand, holding the
sun of our earthly hopes as well,--will it dawn in sorrow or in joy? We
dare not ask, we can only wait.

A faint stir of wind and a little broadening of the light roused Katy
from a trance of half-understood thoughts. She crept once more into
Amy's room. Mrs. Swift laid a warning finger on her lips; Amy was
sleeping, she said with a gesture. Katy whispered the news to the still
figure on the sofa, then she went noiselessly out of the room. The great
hotel was fast asleep; not a sound stirred the profound silence of the
dark halls. A longing for fresh air led her to the roof.

There was the dawn just tingeing the east. The sky, even thus early,
wore the deep mysterious blue of Italy. A fresh _tramontana_ was
blowing, and made Katy glad to draw her shawl about her.

Far away in the distance rose the Alban Hills above the dim Campagna,
with the more lofty Sabines beyond, and Soracte, clear cut against the
sky like a wave frozen in the moment of breaking. Below lay the ancient
city, with its strange mingling of the old and the new, of past things
embedded in the present; or is it the present thinly veiling the rich
and mighty past,--who shall say?

Faint rumblings of wheels and here and there a curl of smoke showed that
Rome was waking up. The light insensibly grew upon the darkness. A pink
flush lit up the horizon. Florio stirred in his lair, stretched his
dappled limbs, and as the first sun-ray glinted on the roof, raised
himself, crossed the gravelled tiles with soundless feet, and ran his
soft nose into Katy's hand. She fondled him for Amy's sake as she stood
bent over the flower-boxes, inhaling the scent of the mignonette and
gilly-flowers, with her eyes fixed on the distance; but her heart was at
home with the sleepers there, and a rush of strong desire stirred her.
Would this dreary time come to an end presently, and should they be set
at liberty to go their ways with no heavy sorrow to press them down, to
be care-free and happy again in their own land?

A footstep startled her. Ned Worthington was coming over the roof on
tiptoe as if fearful of disturbing somebody. His face looked resolute
and excited.

"I wanted to tell you," he said in a hushed voice, "that the doctor is
here, and he says Amy has no fever, and with care may be considered out
of danger."

"Thank God!" cried Katy, bursting into tears. The long fatigue, the
fears kept in check so resolutely, the sleepless night just passed, had
their revenge now, and she cried and cried as if she could never stop,
but with all the time such joy and gratitude in her heart! She was
conscious that Ned had his arm round her and was holding both her hands
tight; but they were so one in the emotion of the moment that it did not
seem strange.

"How sweet the sun looks!" she said presently, releasing herself, with a
happy smile flashing through her tears; "it hasn't seemed really bright
for ever so long. How silly I was to cry! Where is dear Polly? I must go
down to her at once. Oh, what does she say?"



CHAPTER XI.

NEXT.


Lieut. Worthington's leave had nearly expired. He must rejoin his
ship; but he waited till the last possible moment in order to help his
sister through the move to Albano, where it had been decided that Amy
should go for a few days of hill air before undertaking the longer
journey to Florence.

It was a perfect morning in late March when the pale little invalid was
carried in her uncle's strong arms, and placed in the carriage which was
to take them to the old town on the mountain slopes which they had seen
shining from far away for so many weeks past. Spring had come in her
fairest shape to Italy. The Campagna had lost its brown and tawny hues
and taken on a tinge of fresher color. The olive orchards were budding
thickly. Almond boughs extended their dazzling shapes across the blue
sky. Arums and acanthus and ivy filled every hollow, roses nodded from
over every gate, while a carpet of violets and cyclamen and primroses
stretched over the fields and freighted every wandering wind with
fragrance.

When once the Campagna with its long line of aqueducts, arches, and
hoary tombs was left behind, and the carriage slowly began to mount the
gradual rises of the hill, Amy revived. With every breath of the fresher
air her eyes seemed to brighten and her voice to grow stronger. She held
Mabel up to look at the view; and the sound of her laugh, faint and
feeble as it was, was like music to her mother's ears.

Amy wore a droll little silk-lined cap on her head, over which a downy
growth of pale-brown fuzz was gradually thickening. Already it showed a
tendency to form into tiny rings, which to Amy, who had always hankered
for curls, was an extreme satisfaction. Strange to say, the same thing
exactly had happened to Mabel; her hair had grown out into soft little
round curls also! Uncle Ned and Katy had ransacked Rome for this
baby-wig, which filled and realized all Amy's hopes for her child. On
the same excursion they had bought the materials for the pretty spring
suit which Mabel wore, for it had been deemed necessary to sacrifice
most of her wardrobe as a concession to possible fever-germs. Amy
admired the pearl-colored dress and hat, the fringed jacket and little
lace-trimmed parasol so much, that she was quite consoled for the loss
of the blue velvet costume and ermine muff which had been the pride of
her heart ever since they left Paris, and whose destruction they had
scarcely dared to confess to her.

So up, up, up, they climbed till the gateway of the old town was passed,
and the carriage stopped before a quaint building once the residence of
the Bishop of Albano, but now known as the Hôtel de la Poste. Here they
alighted, and were shown up a wide and lofty staircase to their rooms,
which were on the sunny side of the house, and looked across a walled
garden, where roses and lemon trees grew beside old fountains guarded by
sculptured lions and heathen divinities with broken noses and a scant
supply of fingers and toes, to the Campagna, purple with distance and
stretching miles and miles away to where Rome sat on her seven hills,
lifting high the Dome of St. Peter's into the illumined air.

Nurse Swift said that Amy must go to bed at once, and have a long rest.
But Amy nearly wept at the proposal, and declared that she was not a bit
tired and couldn't sleep if she went to bed ever so much. The change of
air had done her good already, and she looked more like herself than for
many weeks past. They compromised their dispute on a sofa, where Amy,
well wrapped up, was laid, and where, in spite of her protestations, she
presently fell asleep, leaving the others free to examine and arrange
their new quarters.

Such enormous rooms as they were! It was quite a journey to go from one
side of them to another. The floors were of stone, with squares of
carpet laid down over them, which looked absurdly small for the great
spaces they were supposed to cover. The beds and tables were of the
usual size, but they seemed almost like doll furniture because the
chambers were so big. A quaint old paper, with an enormous pattern of
banyan trees and pagodas, covered the walls, and every now and then
betrayed by an oblong of regular cracks the existence of a hidden door,
papered to look exactly like the rest of the wall.

These mysterious doors made Katy nervous, and she never rested till she
had opened every one of them and explored the places they led to. One
gave access to a queer little bathroom. Another led, through a narrow
dark passage, to a sort of balcony or loggia overhanging the garden. A
third ended in a dusty closet with an artful chink in it from which you
could peep into what had been the Bishop's drawing-room but which was
now turned into the dining-room of the hotel. It seemed made for
purposes of espial; and Katy had visions of a long line of reverend
prelates with their ears glued to the chink, overhearing what was being
said about them in the apartment beyond.

The most surprising of all she did not discover till she was going to
bed on the second night after their arrival, when she thought she knew
all about the mysterious doors and what they led to. A little
unexplained draught of wind made her candle flicker, and betrayed the
existence of still another door so cunningly hid in the wall pattern
that she had failed to notice it. She had quite a creepy feeling as she
drew her dressing-gown about her, took a light, and entered the narrow
passage into which it opened. It was not a long passage, and ended
presently in a tiny oratory. There was a little marble altar, with a
kneeling-step and candlesticks and a great crucifix above. Ends of wax
candles still remained in the candlesticks, and bunches of dusty paper
flowers filled the vases which stood on either side of them. A faded
silk cushion lay on the step. Doubtless the Bishop had often knelt
there. Katy felt as if she were the first person to enter the place
since he went away. Her common-sense told her that in a hotel bedroom
constantly occupied by strangers for years past, some one _must_ have
discovered the door and found the little oratory before her; but
common-sense is sometimes less satisfactory than romance. Katy liked to
think that she was the first, and to "make believe" that no one else
knew about it; so she did so, and invented legends about the place which
Amy considered better than any fairy story.

Before he left them Lieutenant Worthington had a talk with his sister
in the garden. She rather forced this talk upon him, for various
things were lying at her heart about which she longed for explanation;
but he yielded so easily to her wiles that it was evident he was not
averse to the idea.

"Come, Polly, don't beat about the bush any longer," he said at last,
amused and a little irritated at her half-hints and little feminine
_finesses_. "I know what you want to ask; and as there's no use
making a secret of it, I will take my turn in asking. Have I any chance,
do you think?"

"Any chance?--about Katy, do you mean? Oh, Ned, you make me so happy."

"Yes; about her, of course."

"I don't see why you should say 'of course,'" remarked his sister, with
the perversity of her sex, "when it's only five or six weeks ago that I
was lying awake at night for fear you were being gobbled up by that
Lilly Page."

"There was a little risk of it," replied her brother, seriously. "She's
awfully pretty and she dances beautifully, and the other fellows were
all wild about her, and--well, you know yourself how such things go. I
can't see now what it was that I fancied so much about her, I don't
suppose I could have told exactly at the time; but I can tell without
the smallest trouble what it is in--the other."

"In Katy? I should think so," cried Mrs. Ashe, emphatically; "the two
are no more to be compared than--than--well, bread and syllabub! You can
live on one, and you can't live on the other."

"Come, now, Miss Page isn't so bad as that. She is a nice girl enough,
and a pretty girl too,--prettier than Katy; I'm not so far gone that I
can't see that. But we won't talk about her, she's not in the present
question at all; very likely she'd have had nothing to say to me in any
case. I was only one out of a dozen, and she never gave me reason to
suppose that she cared more for me than the rest. Let us talk about this
friend of yours; have I any chance at all, do you think, Polly?"

"Ned, you are the dearest boy! I would rather have Katy for a sister
than any one else I know. She's so nice all through,--so true and sweet
and satisfactory."

"She is all that and more; she's a woman to tie to for life, to be
perfectly sure of always. She would make a splendid wife for any man.
I'm not half good enough for her; but the question is,--and you haven't
answered it yet, Polly,--what's my chance?"

"I don't know," said his sister, slowly.

"Then I must ask herself, and I shall do so to-day."

"I don't know," repeated Mrs. Ashe. "'She is a woman, therefore to be
won:' and I don't think there is any one ahead of you; that is the best
hope I have to offer, Ned. Katy never talks of such things; and though
she's so frank, I can't guess whether or not she ever thinks about them.
She likes you, however, I am sure of that. But, Ned, it will not be wise
to say anything to her yet."

"Not say anything? Why not?"

"No. Recollect that it is only a little while since she looked upon you
as the admirer of another girl, and a girl she doesn't like very much,
though they are cousins. You must give her time to get over that
impression. Wait awhile; that's my advice, Ned."

"I'll wait any time if only she will say yes in the end. But it's hard
to go away without a word of hope, and it's more like a man to speak
out, it seems to me."

"It's too soon," persisted his sister. "You don't want her to think
you a fickle fellow, falling in love with a fresh girl every time you
go into port, and falling out again when the ship sails. Sailors have
a bad reputation for that sort of thing. No woman cares to win a man
like that."

"Great Scott! I should think not! Do you mean to say that is the way my
conduct appears to her, Polly?"

"No, I don't mean just that; but wait, dear Ned, I am sure it is
better."

Fortified by this sage counsel, Lieutenant Worthington went away next
morning, without saying anything to Katy in words, though perhaps eyes
and tones may have been less discreet. He made them promise that some
one should send a letter every day about Amy; and as Mrs. Ashe
frequently devolved the writing of these bulletins upon Katy, and the
replies came in the shape of long letters, she found herself conducting
a pretty regular correspondence without quite intending it. Ned
Worthington wrote particularly nice letters. He had the knack, more
often found in women than men, of giving a picture with a few graphic
touches, and indicating what was droll or what was characteristic with
a single happy phrase. His letters grew to be one of Katy's pleasures;
and sometimes, as Mrs. Ashe watched the color deepen in her cheeks
while she read, her heart would bound hopefully within her. But she was
a wise woman in her way, and she wanted Katy for a sister very much; so
she never said a word or looked a look to startle or surprise her, but
left the thing to work itself out, which is the best course always in
love affairs.

Little Amy's improvement at Albano was something remarkable. Mrs. Swift
watched over her like a lynx. Her vigilance never relaxed. Amy was made
to eat and sleep and walk and rest with the regularity of a machine; and
this exact system, combined with the good air, worked like a charm. The
little one gained hour by hour. They could absolutely see her growing
fat, her mother declared. Fevers, when they do not kill, operate
sometimes as spring bonfires do in gardens, burning up all the refuse
and leaving the soil free for the growth of fairer things; and Amy
promised in time to be only the better and stronger for her hard
experience.

She had gained so much before the time came to start for Florence, that
they scarcely dreaded the journey; but it proved worse than their
expectations. They had not been able to secure a carriage to themselves,
and were obliged to share their compartment with two English ladies, and
three Roman Catholic priests, one old, the others young. The older
priest seemed to be a person of some consequence; for quite a number of
people came to see him off, and knelt for his blessing devoutly as the
train moved away. The younger ones Katy guessed to be seminary students
under his charge. Her chief amusement through the long dusty journey was
in watching the terrible time that one of these young men was having
with his own hat. It was a large three-cornered black affair, with sharp
angles and excessively stiff; and a perpetual struggle seemed to be
going on between it and its owner, who was evidently unhappy when it was
on his head and still more unhappy when it was anywhere else. If he
perched it on his knees it was sure to slide away from him and fall with
a thump on the floor, whereupon he would pick it up, blushing furiously
as he did so. Then he would lay it on the seat when the train stopped at
a station, and jump out with an air of relief; but he invariably forgot,
and sat down upon it when he returned, and sprang up with a look of
horror at the loud crackle it made; after which he would tuck it into
the baggage-rack overhead, from which it would presently descend,
generally into the lap of one of the staid English ladies, who would
hand it back to him with an air of deep offence, remarking to her
companion,--

"I never knew anything like it. Fancy! that makes four times that hat
has fallen on me. The young man is a feedgit! He's the most feegitty
creature I ever saw in my life."

The young _seminariat_ did not understand a word she said; but the
tone needed no interpreter, and set him to blushing more painfully than
ever. Altogether, the hat was never off his mind for a moment. Katy
could see that he was thinking about it, even when he was thumbing his
Breviary and making believe to read.

At last the train, steaming down the valley of the Arno, revealed fair
Florence sitting among olive-clad hills, with Giotto's beautiful
Bell-tower, and the great, many-colored, soft-hued Cathedral, and the
square tower of the old Palace, and the quaint bridges over the river,
looking exactly as they do in the photographs; and Katy would have felt
delighted, in spite of dust and fatigue, had not Amy looked so worn out
and exhausted. They were seriously troubled about her, and for the
moment could think of nothing else. Happily the fatigue did no permanent
harm, and a day or two of rest made her all right again. By good
fortune, a nice little apartment in the modern quarter of the city had
been vacated by its winter occupants the very day of their arrival, and
Mrs. Ashe secured it for a month, with all its conveniences and
advantages, including a maid named Maria, who had been servant to the
just departed tenants.

Maria was a very tall woman, at least six feet two, and had a splendid
contralto voice, which she occasionally exercised while busy over her
pots and pans. It was so remarkable to hear these grand arias and
recitatives proceeding from a kitchen some eight feet square, that Katy
was at great pains to satisfy her curiosity about it. By aid of the
dictionary and much persistent questioning, she made out that Maria in
her youth had received a partial training for the opera; but in the end
it was decided that she was too big and heavy for the stage, and the
poor "giantess," as Amy named her, had been forced to abandon her
career, and gradually had sunk to the position of a maid-of-all-work.
Katy suspected that heaviness of mind as well as of body must have stood
in her way; for Maria, though a good-natured giantess, was by no means
quick of intelligence.

"I do think that the manner in which people over here can make homes for
themselves at five minutes' notice is perfectly delightful," cried Katy,
at the end of their first day's housekeeping. "I wish we could do the
same in America. How cosy it looks here already!"

It was indeed cosy. Their new domain consisted of a parlor in a corner,
furnished in bright yellow brocade, with windows to south and west; a
nice little dining-room; three bedrooms, with dimity-curtained beds; a
square entrance hall, lighted at night by a tall slender brass lamp
whose double wicks were fed with olive oil; and the aforesaid tiny
kitchen, behind which was a sleeping cubby, quite too small to be a good
fit for the giantess. The rooms were full of conveniences,--easy-chairs,
sofas, plenty of bureaus and dressing-tables, and corner fireplaces like
Franklin stoves, in which odd little fires burned on cool days, made of
pine cones, cakes of pressed sawdust exactly like Boston brown bread cut
into slices, and a few sticks of wood thriftily adjusted, for fuel is
worth its weight in gold in Florence. Katy's was the smallest of the
bedrooms, but she liked it best of all for the reason that its one big
window opened on an iron balcony over which grew a Banksia rose-vine
with a stem as thick as her wrist. It was covered just now with masses
of tiny white blossoms, whose fragrance was inexpressibly delicious and
made every breath drawn in their neighborhood a delight. The sun
streamed in on all sides of the little apartment, which filled a
narrowing angle at the union of three streets; and from one window and
another, glimpses could be caught of the distant heights about the
city,--San Miniato in one direction, Bellosguardo in another, and for
the third the long olive-hung ascent of Fiesole, crowned by its gray
cathedral towers.

It was astonishing how easily everything fell into train about the
little establishment. Every morning at six the English baker left two
small sweet brown loaves and a dozen rolls at the door. Then followed
the dairyman with a supply of tiny leaf-shaped pats of freshly churned
butter, a big flask of milk, and two small bottles of thick cream, with
a twist of vine leaf in each by way of a cork. Next came a _contadino_
with a flask of red Chianti wine, a film of oil floating on top to keep
it sweet. People in Florence must drink wine, whether they like it or
not, because the lime-impregnated water is unsafe for use without some
admixture.

Dinner came from a _trattoria_, in a tin box, with a pan of coals inside
to keep it warm, which box was carried on a man's head. It was furnished
at a fixed price per day,--a soup, two dishes of meat, two vegetables,
and a sweet dish; and the supply was so generous as always to leave
something toward next day's luncheon. Salad, fruit, and fresh eggs Maria
bought for them in the old market. From the confectioners came loaves of
_pane santo_, a sort of light cake made with arrowroot instead of flour;
and sometimes, by way of treat, a square of _pan forte da Siena_,
compounded of honey, almonds, and chocolate,--a mixture as pernicious
as it is delicious, and which might take a medal anywhere for the sure
production of nightmares.

Amy soon learned to know the shops from which these delicacies came.
She had her favorites, too, among the strolling merchants who sold
oranges and those little sweet native figs, dried in the sun without
sugar, which are among the specialties of Florence. They, in their
turn, learned to know her and to watch for the appearance of her little
capped head and Mabel's blond wig at the window, lingering about till
she came, and advertising their wares with musical modulations, so
appealing that Amy was always running to Katy, who acted as
housekeeper, to beg her to please buy this or that, "because it is my
old man, and he wants me to so much."

"But, chicken, we have plenty of figs for to-day."

"No matter; get some more, please do. I'll eat them all; really, I
will."

And Amy was as good as her word. Her convalescent appetite was something
prodigious.

There was another branch of shopping in which they all took equal
delight. The beauty and the cheapness of the Florence flowers are a
continual surprise to a stranger. Every morning after breakfast an old
man came creaking up the two long flights of stairs which led to Mrs.
Ashe's apartment, tapped at the door, and as soon as it opened, inserted
a shabby elbow and a large flat basket full of flowers. Such flowers!
Great masses of scarlet and cream-colored tulips, and white and gold
narcissus, knots of roses of all shades, carnations, heavy-headed trails
of wistaria, wild hyacinths, violets, deep crimson and orange
ranunculus, _giglios_, or wild irises,--the Florence emblem, so deeply
purple as to be almost black,--anemones, spring-beauties, faintly tinted
wood-blooms tied in large loose nosegays, ivy, fruit
blossoms,--everything that can be thought of that is fair and sweet.
These enticing wares the old man would tip out on the table. Mrs. Ashe
and Katy would select what they wanted, and then the process of
bargaining would begin, without which no sale is complete in Italy. The
old man would name an enormous price, five times as much as he hoped to
get. Katy would offer a very small one, considerably less than she
expected to give. The old man would dance with dismay, wring his hands,
assure them that he should die of hunger and all his family with him if
he took less than the price named; he would then come down half a franc
in his demand. So it would go on for five minutes, ten, sometimes for a
quarter of an hour, the old man's price gradually descending, and Katy's
terms very slowly going up, a cent or two at a time. Next the giantess
would mingle with the fray. She would bounce out of her kitchen, berate
the flower-vender, snatch up his flowers, declare that they smelt badly,
fling them down again, pouring out all the while a voluble tirade of
reproaches and revilings, and looking so enormous in her excitement that
Katy wondered that the old man dared to answer her at all. Finally,
there would be a sudden lull. The old man would shrug his shoulders, and
remarking that he and his wife and his aged grandmother must go without
bread that day since it was the Signora's will, take the money offered
and depart, leaving such a mass of flowers behind him that Katy would
begin to think that they had paid an unfair price for them and to feel a
little rueful, till she observed that the old man was absolutely dancing
downstairs with rapture over the good bargain he had made, and that
Maria was black with indignation over the extravagance of her ladies!

"The Americani are a nation of spend-thrifts," she would mutter to
herself, as she quickened the charcoal in her droll little range by
fanning it with a palm-leaf fan; "they squander money like water. Well,
all the better for us Italians!" with a shrug of her shoulders.

"But, Maria, it was only sixteen cents that we paid, and look at those
flowers! There are at least half a bushel of them."

"Sixteen cents for garbage like that! The Signorina would better let me
make her bargains for her. _Già! Già!_ No Italian lady would have paid
more than eleven sous for such useless _roba_. It is evident that the
Signorina's countrymen eat gold when at home, they think so little of
casting it away!"

Altogether, what with the comfort and quiet of this little home, the
numberless delightful things that there were to do and to see, and
Viessieux's great library, from which they could draw books at will
to make the doing and seeing more intelligible, the month at
Florence passed only too quickly, and was one of the times to which
they afterward looked back with most pleasure. Amy grew steadily
stronger, and the freedom from anxiety about her after their long
strain of apprehension was restful and healing beyond expression to
both mind and body.

Their very last excursion of all, and one of the pleasantest, was to the
old amphitheatre at Fiesole; and it was while they sat there in the soft
glow of the late afternoon, tying into bunches the violets which they
had gathered from under walls whose foundations antedate Rome itself,
that a cheery call sounded from above, and an unexpected surprise
descended upon them in the shape of Lieutenant Worthington, who having
secured another fifteen days' furlough, had come to take his sister on
to Venice.

"I didn't write you that I had applied for leave," he explained,
"because there seemed so little chance of my getting off again so soon;
but as luck had it, Carruthers, whose turn it was, sprained his ankle
and was laid up, and the Commodore let us exchange. I made all the
capital I could out of Amy's fever; but upon my word, I felt like a
humbug when I came upon her and Mrs. Swift in the Cascine just now, as I
was hunting for you. How she has picked up! I should never have known
her for the same child."

"Yes, she seems perfectly well again, and as strong as before she had
the fever, though that dear old Goody Swift is just as careful of her as
ever. She would not let us bring her here this afternoon, for fear we
should stay out till the dew fell. Ned, it is perfectly delightful that
you were able to come. It makes going to Venice seem quite a different
thing, doesn't it, Katy?"

"I don't want it to seem quite different, because going to Venice was
always one of my dreams," replied Katy, with a little laugh.

"I hope at least it doesn't make it seem less pleasant," said Mr.
Worthington, as his sister stopped to pick a violet.

"No, indeed, I am glad," said Katy; "we shall all be seeing it for
the first time, too, shall we not? I think you said you had never
been there." She spoke simply and frankly, but she was conscious of
an odd shyness.

"I simply couldn't stand it any longer," Ned Worthington confided to his
sister when they were alone. "My head is so full of her that I can't
attend to my work, and it came to me all of a sudden that this might be
my last chance. You'll be getting north before long, you know, to
Switzerland and so on, where I cannot follow you. So I made a clean
breast of it to the Commodore; and the good old fellow, who has a soft
spot in his heart for a love-story, behaved like a brick, and made it
all straight for me to come away."

Mrs. Ashe did not join in these commendations of the Commodore; her
attention was fixed on another part of her brother's discourse.

"Then you won't be able to come to me again? I sha'n't see you again
after this!" she exclaimed. "Dear me! I never realized that before. What
shall I do without you?"

"You will have Miss Carr. She is a host in herself," suggested Ned
Worthington. His sister shook her head.

"Katy is a jewel," she remarked presently; "but somehow one wants a man
to call upon. I shall feel lost without you, Ned."

The month's housekeeping wound up that night with a "thick tea" in honor
of Lieutenant Worthington's arrival, which taxed all the resources of
the little establishment. Maria was sent out hastily to buy _pan forte
da Siena_ and _vino d'Asti_, and fresh eggs for an omelette, and
chickens' breasts smothered in cream from the restaurant, and artichokes
for a salad, and flowers to garnish all; and the guest ate and praised
and admired; and Amy and Mabel sat on his knee and explained everything
to him, and they were all very happy together. Their merriment was so
infectious that it extended to the poor giantess, who had been very
pensive all day at the prospect of losing her good place, and who now
raised her voice in the grand aria from "Orfeo," and made the kitchen
ring with the passionate demand "Che farò senza Eurydice?" The splendid
notes, full of fire and lamentation, rang out across the saucepans as
effectively as if they had been footlights; and Katy, rising softly,
opened the kitchen door a little way that they might not lose a sound.

The next day brought them to Venice. It was a "moment," indeed, as Katy
seated herself for the first time in a gondola, and looked from beneath
its black hood at the palace walls on the Grand Canal, past which they
were gliding. Some were creamy white and black, some orange-tawny,
others of a dull delicious ruddy color, half pink, half red; but all, in
build and ornament, were unlike palaces elsewhere. High on the prow
before her stood the gondolier, his form defined in dark outline against
the sky, as he swayed and bent to his long oar, raising his head now and
again to give a wild musical cry, as warning to other approaching
gondolas. It was all like a dream. Ned Worthington sat beside her,
looking more at the changes in her expressive face than at the palaces.
Venice was as new to him as to Katy; but she was a new feature in his
life also, and even more interesting than Venice. They seemed to float
on pleasures for the next ten days. Their arrival had been happily timed
to coincide with a great popular festival which for nearly a week kept
Venice in a state of continual brilliant gala. All the days were spent
on the water, only landing now and then to look at some famous building
or picture, or to eat ices in the Piazza with the lovely façade of St.
Mark's before them. Dining or sleeping seemed a sheer waste of time! The
evenings were spent on the water too; for every night, immediately after
sunset, a beautiful drifting pageant started from the front of the
Doge's Palace to make the tour of the Grand Canal, and our friends
always took a part in it. In its centre went a barge hung with
embroideries and filled with orange trees and musicians. This was
surrounded by a great convoy of skiffs and gondolas bearing colored
lanterns and pennons and gay awnings, and managed by gondoliers in
picturesque uniforms. All these floated and shifted and swept on
together with a sort of rhythmic undulation as if keeping time to the
music, while across their path dazzling showers and arches of colored
fire poured from the palace fronts and the hotels. Every movement of the
fairy flotilla was repeated in the illuminated water, every torch-tip
and scarlet lantern and flake of green or rosy fire; above all the
bright full moon looked down as if surprised. It was magically beautiful
in effect. Katy felt as if her previous sober ideas about life and
things had melted away. For the moment the world was turned topsy-turvy.
There was nothing hard or real or sordid left in it; it was just a fairy
tale, and she was in the middle of it as she had longed to be in her
childhood. She was the Princess, encircled by delights, as when she and
Clover and Elsie played in "Paradise,"--only, this was better; and, dear
me! who was this Prince who seemed to belong to the story and to grow
more important to it every day?

Fairy tales must come to ending. Katy's last chapter closed with a
sudden turn-over of the leaf when, toward the end of this happy
fortnight, Mrs. Ashe came into her room with the face of one who has
unpleasant news to communicate.

"Katy," she began, "should you be _awfully_ disappointed, should
you consider me a perfect wretch, if I went home now instead of in
the autumn?"

Katy was too much astonished to reply.

"I am grown such a coward, I am so knocked up and weakened by what I
suffered in Rome, that I find I cannot face the idea of going on to
Germany and Switzerland alone, without Ned to take care of me. You are a
perfect angel, dear, and I know that you would do all you could to make
it easy for me, but I am such a fool that I do not dare. I think my
nerves must have given way," she continued half tearfully; "but the very
idea of shifting for myself for five months longer makes me so miserably
homesick that I cannot endure it. I dare say I shall repent afterward,
and I tell myself now how silly it is; but it's no use,--I shall never
know another easy moment till I have Amy safe again in America and under
your father's care."

"I find," she continued after another little pause, "that we can go down
with Ned to Genoa and take a steamer there which will carry us straight
to New York without any stops. I hate to disappoint you dreadfully,
Katy, but I have almost decided to do it. Shall you mind very much? Can
you ever forgive me?" She was fairly crying now.

Katy had to swallow hard before she could answer, the sense of
disappointment was so sharp; and with all her efforts there was almost a
sob in her voice as she said,--

"Why yes, indeed, dear Polly, there is nothing to forgive. You are
perfectly right to go home if you feel so." Then with another swallow
she added: "You have given me the loveliest six months' treat that ever
was, and I should be a greedy girl indeed if I found fault because it is
cut off a little sooner than we expected."

"You are so dear and good not to be vexed," said her friend, embracing
her. "It makes me feel doubly sorry about disappointing you. Indeed I
wouldn't if I could help it, but I simply can't. I _must_ go home.
Perhaps we'll come back some day when Amy is grown up, or safely married
to somebody who will take good care of her!"

This distant prospect was but a poor consolation for the immediate
disappointment. The more Katy thought about it the sorrier did she feel.
It was not only losing the chance--very likely the only one she would
ever have--of seeing Switzerland and Germany; it was all sorts of other
little things besides. They must go home in a strange ship with a
captain they did not know, instead of in the "Spartacus," as they had
planned; and they should land in New York, where no one would be waiting
for them, and not have the fun of sailing into Boston Bay and seeing
Rose on the wharf, where she had promised to be. Furthermore, they must
pass the hot summer in Burnet instead of in the cool Alpine valleys; and
Polly's house was let till October. She and Amy would have to shift for
themselves elsewhere. Perhaps they would not be in Burnet at all. Oh
dear, what a pity it was! what a dreadful pity!

Then, the first shock of surprise and discomfiture over, other ideas
asserted themselves; and as she realized that in three weeks more, or
four at the longest, she was to see papa and Clover and all her dear
people at home, she began to feel so very glad that she could hardly
wait for the time to come. After all, there was nothing in Europe quite
so good as that.

"No, I'm not sorry," she told herself; "I am glad. Poor Polly! it's no
wonder she feels nervous after all she has gone through. I hope I wasn't
cross to her! And it will be _very_ nice to have Lieutenant Worthington
to take care of us as far as Genoa."

The next three days were full of work. There was no more floating in
gondolas, except in the way of business. All the shopping which they had
put off must be done, and the trunks packed for the voyage. Every one
recollected last errands and commissions; there was continual coming and
going and confusion, and Amy, wild with excitement, popping up every
other moment in the midst of it all, to demand of everybody if they were
not glad that they were going back to America.

Katy had never yet bought her gift from old Mrs. Redding. She had
waited, thinking continually that she should see something more tempting
still in the next place they went to; but now, with the sense that there
were to be no more "next places," she resolved to wait no longer, and
with a hundred francs in her pocket, set forth to choose something from
among the many tempting things for sale in the Piazza. A bracelet of old
Roman coins had caught her fancy one day in a bric-à-brac shop, and she
walked straight toward it, only pausing by the way to buy a pale blue
iridescent pitcher at Salviate's for Cecy Slack, and see it carefully
rolled in seaweed and soft paper.

The price of the bracelet was a little more than she expected, and quite
a long process of bargaining was necessary to reduce it to the sum she
had to spend. She had just succeeded and was counting out the money when
Mrs. Ashe and her brother appeared, having spied her from the opposite
side of the Piazza, where they were choosing last photographs at Naga's.
Katy showed her purchase and explained that it was a present; "for of
course I should never walk out in cold blood and buy a bracelet for
myself," she said with a laugh.

"This is a fascinating little shop," said Mrs. Ashe. "I wonder
what is the price of that queer old chatelaine with the bottles
hanging from it."

The price was high; but Mrs. Ashe was now tolerably conversant with
shopping Italian, which consists chiefly of a few words repeated many
times over, and it lowered rapidly under the influence of her _troppo's_
and _è molto caro's_, accompanied with telling little shrugs and looks
of surprise. In the end she bought it for less than two thirds of what
had been originally asked for it. As she put the parcel in her pocket,
her brother said,--

"If you have done your shopping now, Polly, can't you come out for a
last row?"

"Katy may, but I can't," replied Mrs. Ashe. "The man promised to bring
me gloves at six o'clock, and I must be there to pay for them. Take
her down to the Lido, Ned. It's an exquisite evening for the water,
and the sunset promises to be delicious. You can take the time, can't
you, Katy?"

Katy could.

Mrs. Ashe turned to leave them, but suddenly stopped short.

"Katy, look! Isn't that a picture!"

The "picture" was Amy, who had come to the Piazza with Mrs. Swift, to
feed the doves of St. Mark's, which was one of her favorite amusements.
These pretty birds are the pets of all Venice, and so accustomed to
being fondled and made much of by strangers, that they are perfectly
tame. Amy, when her mother caught sight of her, was sitting on the
marble pavement, with one on her shoulder, two perched on the edge of
her lap, which was full of crumbs, and a flight of others circling round
her head. She was looking up and calling them in soft tones. The
sunlight caught the little downy curls on her head and made them
glitter. The flying doves lit on the pavement, and crowded round her,
their pearl and gray and rose-tinted and white feathers, their scarlet
feet and gold-ringed eyes, making a shifting confusion of colors, as
they hopped and fluttered and cooed about the little maid, unstartled
even by her clear laughter. Close by stood Nurse Swift, observant and
grimly pleased.

The mother looked on with happy tears in her eyes. "Oh, Katy, think
what she was a few weeks ago and look at her now! Can I ever be
thankful enough?"

She squeezed Katy's hand convulsively and walked away, turning her head
now and then for another glance at Amy and the doves; while Ned and Katy
silently crossed to the landing and got into a gondola. It was the
perfection of a Venice evening, with silver waves lapsing and lulling
under a rose and opal sky; and the sense that it was their last row on
those enchanted waters made every moment seem doubly precious.

I cannot tell you exactly what it was that Ned Worthington said to Katy
during that row, or why it took so long to say it that they did not get
in till after the sun was set, and the stars had come out to peep at
their bright, glinting faces, reflected in the Grand Canal. In fact, no
one can tell; for no one overheard, except Giacomo, the brown
yellow-jacketed gondolier, and as he did not understand a word of
English he could not repeat the conversation. Venetian boatmen, however,
know pretty well what it means when a gentleman and lady, both young,
find so much to say in low tones to each other under the gondola hood,
and are so long about giving the order to return; and Giacomo, deeply
sympathetic, rowed as softly and made himself as imperceptible as he
could,--a display of tact which merited the big silver piece with which
Lieutenant Worthington "crossed his palm" on landing.

Mrs. Ashe had begun to look for them long before they appeared, but I
think she was neither surprised nor sorry that they were so late. Katy
kissed her hastily and went away at once,--"to pack," she said,--and
Ned was equally undemonstrative; but they looked so happy, both of them,
that "Polly dear" was quite satisfied and asked no questions.

Five days later the parting came, when the "Florio" steamer put into the
port of Genoa for passengers. It was not an easy good-by to say. Mrs.
Ashe and Amy both cried, and Mabel was said to be in deep affliction
also. But there were alleviations. The squadron was coming home in the
autumn, and the officers would have leave to see their friends, and of
course Lieutenant Worthington must come to Burnet--to visit his sister.
Five months would soon go, he declared; but for all the cheerful
assurance, his face was rueful enough as he held Katy's hand in a long
tight clasp while the little boat waited to take him ashore.

After that it was just a waiting to be got through with till they
sighted Sandy Hook and the Neversinks,--a waiting varied with peeps at
Marseilles and Gibraltar and the sight of a whale or two and one distant
iceberg. The weather was fair all the way, and the ocean smooth. Amy was
never weary of lamenting her own stupidity in not having taken Maria
Matilda out of confinement before they left Venice.

"That child has hardly been out of the trunk since we started," she
said. "She hasn't seen anything except a little bit of Nice. I shall
really be ashamed when the other children ask her about it. I think I
shall play that she was left at boarding-school and didn't come to
Europe at all! Don't you think that would be the best way, mamma?"

"You might play that she was left in the States-prison for having done
something naughty," suggested Katy; but Amy scouted this idea.

"She never does naughty things," she said, "because she never does
anything at all. She's just stupid, poor child! It's not her fault."

The thirty-six hours between New York and Burnet seemed longer than all
the rest of the journey put together, Katy thought. But they ended at
last, as the "Lake Queen" swung to her moorings at the familiar wharf,
where Dr. Carr stood surrounded with all his boys and girls just as they
had stood the previous October, only that now there were no clouds on
anybody's face, and Johnnie was skipping up and down for joy instead of
grief. It was a long moment while the plank was being lowered from the
gangway; but the moment it was in place, Katy darted across, first
ashore of all the passengers, and was in her father's arms.

Mrs. Ashe and Amy spent two or three days with them, while looking up
temporary quarters elsewhere; and so long as they stayed all seemed a
happy confusion of talking and embracing and exclaiming, and
distributing of gifts. After they went away things fell into their
customary train, and a certain flatness became apparent. Everything had
happened that could happen. The long-talked-of European journey was
over. Here was Katy at home again, months sooner than they expected; yet
she looked remarkably cheerful and content! Clover could not understand
it; she was likewise puzzled to account for one or two private
conversations between Katy and papa in which she had not been invited to
take part, and the occasional arrival of a letter from "foreign parts"
about whose contents nothing was said.

"It seems a dreadful pity that you had to come so soon," she said one
day when they were alone in their bedroom. "It's delightful to have you,
of course; but we had braced ourselves to do without you till October,
and there are such lots of delightful things that you could have been
doing and seeing at this moment."

"Oh, yes, indeed," replied Katy, but not at all as if she were
particularly disappointed.

"Katy Carr, I don't understand you," persisted Clover. "Why don't you
feel worse about it? Here you have lost five months of the most
splendid time you ever had, and you don't seem to mind it a bit! Why,
if I were in your place my heart would be perfectly broken. And you
needn't have come, either; that's the worst of it. It was just a whim
of Polly's. Papa says Amy might have stayed as well as not. Why aren't
you sorrier, Katy?"

"Oh, I don't know. Perhaps because I had so much as it was,--enough to
last all my life, I think, though I _should_ like to go again. You can't
imagine what beautiful pictures are put away in my memory."

"I don't see that you had so awfully much," said the aggravated Clover;
"you were there only a little more than six months,--for I don't count
the sea,--and ever so much of that time was taken up with nursing Amy.
You can't have any pleasant pictures of _that_ part of it."

"Yes, I have, some."

"Well, I should really like to know what. There you were in a dark room,
frightened to death and tired to death, with only Mrs. Ashe and the old
nurse to keep you company--Oh, yes, that brother was there part of the
time; I forgot him--"

Clover stopped short in sudden amazement. Katy was standing with her
back toward her, smoothing her hair, but her face was reflected in the
glass. At Clover's words a sudden deep flush had mounted in Katy's
cheeks. Deeper and deeper it burned as she became conscious of Clover's
astonished gaze, till even the back of her neck was pink. Then, as if
she could not bear it any longer, she put the brush down, turned, and
fled out of the room; while Clover, looking after her, exclaimed in a
tone of sudden comical dismay,--

"What does it mean? Oh, dear me! is that what Katy is going to do next?"





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