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Title: Roma beata; letters from the Eternal city
Author: Elliott, Maude Howe
Language: English
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                              ROMA BEATA

[Illustration: _Terrace of the Palazzo Rusticucci_

From a pencil drawing in the Collection of Miss Mabel Norman]



                              ROMA BEATA

                     Letters from the Eternal City

                                  BY

                               MAUD HOWE

       AUTHOR OF “A NEWPORT AQUARELLE,” “THE SAN ROSARIO RANCH,”
             “MAMMON,” “PHILLIDA,” “LAURA BRIDGMAN,” ETC.

           _With Illustrations from Drawings by John Elliott
                         and from Photographs_

                                BOSTON
                      LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY
                                 1909



                       _Copyright, 1903, 1904_,
                    BY J. B. LIPPINCOTT & COMPANY.


                          _Copyright, 1904_,
                          BY THE CENTURY CO.


                          _Copyright, 1904_,
                          BY AMERICA COMPANY.


                          _Copyright, 1904_,
                        BY THE OUTLOOK COMPANY.


                          _Copyright, 1904_,
                    BY LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY.


                         _All rights reserved_


                               Printers
                S. J. PARKHILL & CO., BOSTON, U. S. A.



                             TO MY SISTER

                           LAURA E. RICHARDS



CONTENTS


                                                                    PAGE

I. LOOKING FOR A HOME                                                  1

II.   CADENABBIA--WOERISHOVEN--PFARRER SEBASTIAN KNEIPP               31

III. A VISIT TO QUEEN MARGARET                                        50

IV. A PRESENTATION TO LEO THE THIRTEENTH                              76

V. IN THE ABRUZZI MOUNTAINS                                           97

VI. SCANNO                                                           119

VII. VIAREGGIO--LUCCA--RETURN TO ROME                                142

VIII. ROMAN CODGERS AND SOLITARIES                                   163

IX. BLACK MAGIC AND WHITE--WITCH’S NIGHT                             187

X. ISCHIA                                                            215

XI. OLD AND NEW ROME--PALESTRINA                                     239

XII. THE ANNO SANTO                                                  264

XIII. THE QUEEN’S VISIT                                              292

XIV. STRAWBERRIES OF NEMI                                            314

XV. THE KING IS DEAD. LONG LIVE THE KING                             338



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

                                                                    PAGE

Terrace of the Palazzo Rusticucci                          _Frontispiece_
From a pencil drawing in the Collection of Miss Mabel Norman

The Appian Way                                                        30
From a photograph

The Madonna of St. Agostino                                           72
From a photograph

The Pincian Gate and Wall of Rome                                     76
From a photograph

Roccaraso                                                             98
From a pencil drawing

Marta, a Vestal of the Abruzzi                                       107
From a pencil drawing in the Collection of Mrs. Whitman

The Tiber, at the Ponte Nomantana                                    158
From a photograph

A Lost Love                                                          202
From a red chalk drawing in the Collection of Mr. Thomas W. Lawson

Ischia                                                               216
From a photograph

The Lady K.                                                          250
From a red chalk drawing in the Collection of Mr. Thomas W. Lawson

Dante                                                                311
From a pastel drawing in the Collection of Mrs. David Kimball

The Palace of the Orsini at Nemi                                     318
From a photograph



ROMA BEATA



I

LOOKING FOR A HOME


ROME, January 20, 1894.

Rome, which we reached Thursday, is very much changed since I last saw
it; imagine the Fountain of Trevi, all the principal streets, even many
of the smaller ones, gleaming with electric lights!

We at once engaged an apartment bathed with sun in the Piazza di Spagna,
sun from early morning till late afternoon. But when we moved into it,
the day was overcast. The apartment which had been tropical with the sun
when we hired it was arctic without it!

We interviewed our _padrona_ (landlady), an immense woman, and demanded
a fire.

“But, Excellency, it is not good for the health.”

We told her we understood our health better than she, and reminded her
that fires had been promised.

“Excellency, yes, if it makes cold; but to-day it makes an immense heat.
_Diamine!_ this saloon is a furnace.”

The thermometer could not have stood above forty-two degrees, but she
was not to be bullied or cajoled. Then J. went out and bought wood
“unbeknownst” to her and lighted a fire in the parlor grate. All the
smoke poured into the room. The _padrona_ charged with fixed bayonets.

“Gentry, we are ruined! Not is possible to make fire here.”

“Why did you not say so before?”

“Who could figure to himself that gentry so instructed would do a thing
so strange?”

These people are so polite that this was an insult, meant as such, taken
as such. In the end J. prevailed. A small fireplace was unearthed from
behind the wardrobe in our bedroom. He worked like a stoker, but the
badly constructed chimney swallowed all the heat. For three days I was
never warm, save when in bed. Monday we forfeited three months’ rent,
paid in advance, and went, tame and crestfallen, to a _pension_, a
sadder and a wiser pair.


PALAZZO SANTO CROCE, March 10, 1894.

The warm weather has come, bright and beautiful, and here we are again,
in a furnished apartment, but with what a difference! These pleasant
rooms belong to Marion Crawford. That princely soul, having let his
lower suite to the William Henry Hurlburts, lends us the pretty little
suite he fitted up for the “four-in-hand,” as he calls his quartette of
splendid babes. We are to remain here till our own apartment is found.
We have bought our linen, blankets, _batterie de cuisine_, and other
beginnings of housekeeping, and yesterday--am I not my mother’s own
child?--I gave a tea-party for two American girls. They wanted to see
some artists, so I asked the few I know, Apolloni (well named the big
Apollo), Sartorio, and Mr. Ross, he who spoke of the cherubs in a
certain Fra Angelico picture as “dose dear leetle angles bimbling round
in de corner.” I invited also Mr. and Mrs. Muirhead; he is the author of
the American Baedeker, the editor of all English Baedekers. I expected
to see him bound in scarlet instead of dressed in hodden-gray. We had
much tea, more talk, and most _panettone_--half bread, half cake, with
_pignoli_ and currants; when fresh, it seems the best thing to eat in
the world, until you get it the next day toasted for breakfast, when it
is better.

My rooms are still ablaze with yesterday’s flowers. I bought for two
francs in the Piazza di Spagna what I thought a very extravagant bunch
of white and purple flags and white and purple lilacs, like those in our
old garden at Green Peace. Helen came in a little later with a bunch
twice as big and a glow of pink peonies added; in the middle of the
tea-drinking Sartorio arrived with a gigantic armful of yellow gorse.
Spring is really here! The trees are all green now. When we first came
the stone pines were the chief glory; now the Pincio is gay with
snow-white maple trees and flowering shrubs, mostly white and purple. Is
there any rotation of color in flowers? It has often struck me there
must be! Sometimes everything in blossom seems to be lilac, another
season it is all yellow, then all red. I notice the reds come last, in
midsummer chiefly,--has this to do with the heat? Max Nordau--cheerful
person that, by the way--says that red is hysterical peoples’ favorite
color; violet, melancholiacs’. There is a boy who sits all day under my
window selling bird whistles, on which he warbles pleasantly. He is
never without a red rosebud worn over his left ear. I wonder if he is
hysterical!

Now that the good weather has come, I often go to the churches to hear
the music. At the _festa_ of Our Lady of Good Counsel the scholars of
the Blind Institution furnished the music--a good band, though not equal
to that of the Perkins Institution, in Boston. The church was crammed
with very dirty people and many children. One mother carried a strapping
yearling, a splendid angel of a child; three toddlers clung to her
skirts, and a newborn baby howled in the grandam’s arms. After a time
the two women exchanged babies, the grandam took the heavy youngster,
the mother took the new-born, and, squatting down, calmly suckled it.
The music was marred by the wailing of this and other infants, but no
one seemed to mind. After all, it was the only way the women could have
heard mass; the little ones were too young to be left alone at home.

The Romans are devoted to their children, although their ways are not
our ways; no woman of the upper class nurses her child, baby carriages
are unknown, and swaddling is still in vogue, at least with the lower
classes. I know a young American lady, married to a Roman, who imported
a perambulator for her first baby. The _balia_ (wet-nurse), a superb cow
of a woman, refused to trundle it, saying she was not strong enough,
although I saw her carry a heavy trunk upstairs on her head while I was
calling at the house! The baby is now a big eighteen-months-old boy;
every day the _balia_ goes out to give him an airing, carrying him in
her arms! Here, leading-strings are facts, not symbols. In Trastavere,
where I went sightseeing yesterday with Helen--peering, as she calls
it,--the best sight we saw was a darling red-haired baby in
leading-strings stumbling along in front of its grandmother. In the
division of labor, the care of the children falls upon the grandmother;
the mother’s time is too valuable; if she is not actually employed in
earning money, there is the heavier work of the household to do. To use
the pet phrase of the boarders, “things are different here from what
they are at home.”


PALAZZO RUSTICUCCI, July 10, 1894.

Here we are in a home of our own! One moonlight night J. came in with
the news that he had found the very apartment he had been looking for;
if I didn’t mind, we would go and see it at once. Naturally, I didn’t
“mind.” We took a _botte_ and threaded the network of narrow streets
that lead down to the Tiber. We crossed the river, a huge brown flood,
silver where it swirled about the piers; drove past the Castle of St.
Angelo to the dingy old palace at the junction of the Borgo Nuovo and
the Piazza San Pietro. He would not let me stop to look at anything, but
hurried me through the entrance, along the corridor, past a courtyard
with orange trees and a fountain where the nightingales were singing, up
a high, wide stairway guarded by recumbent statues of terra-cotta
Etruscan ladies, to a rusty old green door. We pulled a bell-rope and
set a bell jangling inside. The door was opened by the _esattore_
(agent), a brisk young man, who carried a three-beaked brass lamp by
whose light we explored the apartment. They hurried me so that I could
only see that the high ceilings were of carved wood, that the windows
were large, and that I liked the shape of the rooms. J. kept saying,
“Wait till you see the terrace.” The terrace, or house-top, is a flat
roof; it covers the whole length and breadth of the apartment, and
belongs exclusively to it. A parapet three feet high runs around it; at
one end is a small room with a second smaller terrace on its roof,
reached by a flight of stone steps; at the other end is a high wall with
a little, open belfry on top. The view is sublime; you look down into
the Square of St. Peter’s with the Egyptian obelisk in the middle,
Bernini’s great colonnades on either side, the Church of St. Peter’s at
the end, with the Vatican, a big, awkward mass of a building, behind it,
and in the foreground the twin fountains sending up their columns of
powdered spray. On the left loomed the Castle of St. Angelo; it was
light enough to see the time by the clock. You can imagine all the
rest,--the city spread out like a map, the dark masses of trees marking
the Pincio and the Villa Borghese, the Campagna, the Sabine and the
Alban hills beyond, Mt. Soracte, our familiar friend, on the left, over
and under all the soft deep notes of the big bell of St. Peter’s
throbbing out the Angelus.

The bargain was struck that very night! But when we went over the next
day J. let the cat out of the bag by saying, “I was afraid if you went
by daylight, and saw what an old ruin it was, you would never consent to
our taking it!”

It did look discouraging. The last tenant, a monsignore, who lived here
thirty years, never allowed the owners to make any repairs; he said he
could not be bothered with workmen. He died a short time ago, leaving a
red rose growing in a wooden half-barrel on the terrace. The owner of
the palace, Signor Mazzocchi, armorer to the Pope, waited till the new
tenant should turn up before making any changes. The palace was built in
1661. It has gone to wrack and ruin, but it is a magnificent old wreck.
It stands on the site of the house the great architect Bramante built
for Raphael, one pier of which is still standing, built into our walls.
It once belonged to a Cardinal Rusticucci, whose arms are cut in stone
over one of the doors; he was of the same family as the gentleman Dante
met in one of the lower circles of the Inferno.

“_Ed io, che posto son con loro in croce, Jacopo Rusticucci fui; e
certo la fiera moglie più ch’altro mi nuoce._”

“And I who am placed on the cross with these was Jacob Rusticucci. It is
certain my proud wife harmed me more than another!”

The palace seems to be called indifferently Rusticucci, Accoramboni, and
Mazzocchi. We hesitated for some time between the three names; finally
the Dantesque name carried the day, and I have had Palazzo Rusticucci
engraved upon our cards. It is considered very plebeian here to have
your address on your cards, but I cling to my American ideas.

The monsignore’s red rose on the terrace looked so lonely that I went
last Wednesday to Rag Fair in the Campo dei Fiori and bought a pink ivy
geranium, some pansies, and a white carnation to keep it company; they
were absurdly cheap; flowers are a necessity here, not a luxury. I also
bought a sack of earth, some flower-pots, and a watering-can. I got up
at dawn the next morning and potted my plants; hard work! When J. came
up at seven o’clock for coffee, there they stood in a row at the end of
the terrace. It was a real surprise; I was very proud, till I found that
he had to do the work all over again, just because I had not put
anything in the bottom of the flower-pots to keep the earth from running
out when they are watered! J. says we must have more, many more, plants.
Sunday he was pottering about all day with the plumber. We are to have
another _quarto_ of water laid on, the pipes carried to the upper
terrace, and a vast Florentine flower-pot--you know the kind,
terra-cotta--for the receiver. Some day we mean to have a marble
sarcophagus in its place. They took the beautiful long zinc bath-tub for
the tank; this was a blow, but Pompilia and Filomena found it _too_
convenient! Every one who has seen it on the upper terrace says, “Do you
take your bath up here?” It is not easy to laugh at this inevitable
joke; I wait for it now from each new visitor, and feel relieved to get
it over.

The terrace is our poetry, and we have parlous good prose downstairs.
The walls are three feet thick, built to keep out both heat and cold;
the whole house is paved with red, white, and black tiles in geometrical
designs. The old green door opens into a vestibule leading to the
_anticamera_, which has two big windows. The _salotto_ opens from this;
it has a splendid _sei cento_ carved wood ceiling, and pale nile-green
doors with gilt mouldings and handles. The dining-room, square and high,
leads from the _salotto_; beyond is a charming room with a fresco of
Apollo driving the horses of the sun. This will be our guest-room when
we have a guest; it is now my den. On the other side of the _salotto_ is
our yellow bedroom: the nicest room I have ever lived in; it has a
vaulted stone ceiling. Do you remember Tennyson’s poem?

    “O darling room, my heart’s delight,
     Dear room, the apple of my sight,
     With thy two couches soft and white,
     There is no room so exquisite,
     No little room so warm and bright,
     Wherein to read, wherein to write.”

Well, ours is just like that, only it is not “little” but very large.
These rooms are in the front of the palace, looking down into the Piazza
San Pietro and facing _mezzo giorno_, due south. They all have
fireplaces (J. put them in himself with the aid of Lorenzo), the sun
pours into them, and if one can be warm in Rome, in winter, we shall be.
From the passage outside the kitchen a small stone stairway leads up
past a tiny oratory to the terrace. The oratory is charming in shape,
not quite round, more like an ellipse with two marble seats. The floor
slopes to the middle, where there is a grating to let the rain out, for
it is open to the sky; its dome is a minute replica of the Pantheon’s.
The monsignore must have sat here to read his “hours”; there is nothing
to distract the mind, no sound save the bells of St. Peter’s, nothing to
see but the sky and clouds overhead and the low-flying _rondinelle_
swooping across and across at sunset.

In the _salotto_ (Filomena sometimes calls it the _salottino_, to my
rage) there is a handsome sofa and pair of armchairs, a fine black oak
table, and my Benares tray and stand for tea. The rest of the furniture
is very meek and cane-bottomed. We have in this room a lovely landscape
of the Campagna by Sartorio, a silver-point drawing by Hughes, the
English artist, and a cast from the Alhambra.


July 28, 1894.

Thirty-six degrees centigrade for the last three days! Those clever
children of yours will know how hot that really is. I don’t know, but
people mop their brows a good deal, and say that the heat of this
summer is “unprecedented and incredible.” It troubles me very little;
once or twice only I have felt rather tired by it, and I fancy it is
sharpening up my temper a little; but I eat and sleep like several tops,
only I can’t do much of anything out of doors. Yesterday I went to see
the friendly Countess C., who has a small city garden with shade-trees,
under which we sat and consumed iced wine and cakes, and talked about
the Pope. She is an American and very Black in her politics, though her
husband is a White and fought for Victor Emmanuel.

At the suggestion of Mr. Richard Greenough I have adopted the Roman
scheme of life and divide every day into two. I am up at five, have my
coffee, and read my paper on the terrace. At eight the rooms are
hermetically sealed; outside shutters, windows, and inside blinds are
closed. A melancholy twilight pervades everywhere, except in my den,
where I keep one eye of the house open to read, write, cipher, and catch
fleas by. I go out early, do my errands, make my visits, and try to be
at home by ten; sometimes I am delayed till twelve. Luncheon is at one;
after this the whole household, the whole city, takes its _siesta_.
From two till four Rome sleeps! Down in the piazza the workmen lie at
full length on the pavement, their arms under their heads. Cabmen curl
up inside their cabs, horses sleep between the shafts, even small boys
sleep! At first I would none of it. I only yielded when I found that the
soldiers in the barracks opposite are obliged by the military
regulations to take a daily _siesta_.

    “And does it not seem hard to you,
     When all the sky is clear and blue,
     And I should like so much to play,
     To have to go to bed by day?”

Soon after four o’clock the sea-breeze comes up and life begins again.
By five I am ready for tea on the terrace. Sometimes we go instead to
Ronzi and Singer’s for _granite_, a sort of sherbet made of snow from
the mountains flavored with coffee or lemon, very delicious and cooling
to the blood. By this time the streets are filled with people. The Roman
girls look charming in their pretty light summer dresses; pink muslin
seems to be the fashion this season. Dinner gets pushed back later and
later; we really must reform. Last night we did not sit down till
quarter to nine. The nights are divinely cool; we go to the terrace
from the dinner-table, and sit there till bedtime under the friendly
stars.

       *       *       *       *       *

To-day I have been driving in the Villa Pamfili Doria; for proof accept
this pink petal from the Egyptian lotus in the lake. I never saw them
growing before. They are wonderful; the pads immense, with a green
velvety surface on which the water rolls up into crystal balls; the
flower, when it is closed, large and pointed like a classic flame, does
not lie on the water, as I supposed, but stands erect, some eight or ten
inches above it. My uncle and a few other privileged people are allowed
to drive here even when the villa is closed to the public. We always
meet a modest-looking old couple in a coupé; he is blind and has a long
white beard; she wears a bonnet like a bat and carries a green fan with
which she screens her eyes. Cardinal A., his secretary walking beside
him, two attendants following, is always there, and several other
priests; except for these, an occasional gardener, and the peacocks, we
have the glorious old place all to ourselves. There are deer and Jersey
cows and the lake and the pretty formal garden in front of the house; it
has the feeling of being private property--a gentleman’s place. The
name “Mary,” clipped in box on the hillside in memory of a beloved wife,
an English Princess Doria, gives me the same sort of satisfaction as the
Taj Mahal and the tomb of Cæcilia Metella.

Your last letter clamors for details of our housekeeping. In certain
respects it is idyllic. For comfort I have never known its equal. We
have two women, Filomena, the Umbrian housemaid and waitress, and
Pompilia, my black-browed Tuscan cook (Romans do not make good
servants). These two do the work easily with the help of old Nena, the
fifth wheel to our coach. Helen calls her the footman; she does all our
errands, carries my notes, and when I am hard pressed for time leaves
our cards. Pompilia brings me her accounts every morning, so much for
beef, bread, butter, spaghetti, wine, oil, and salt. I buy my fruit and
groceries myself. So much custom allows. It is more _signorile_,
however, to leave all buying to your servants, but a certain latitude,
of which I have availed myself, is allowed to artists. Store-rooms and
ice-chests are unknown; we live from hand to mouth, buying each day’s
provisions “fresh and fresh.” The butchers shut up shop at eleven in
the morning and do not open again till six in the evening. Business
begins at the shriek of dawn; the first sound I hear in the early gray
is the sharpening of the butcher’s knife in the shop opposite. They keep
the meat in cool “grottos” underground. How they manage without ice is a
mystery!

The Borgo, our quarter,--Leonine City is its best name,--is not
fashionable, and the street-cries are still in full force here. The
earliest is the Acetosa water, “_Fiasche fresche aqua ’Cetosa!_” I hear
it in my dreams, plaintive, melodious. “Flasks of fresh Acetosa water!”
Then comes the rumbling of the cart, the hee-hawing of the donkey, and
the remarks of the man to the donkey. This is what he said to-day: “I
call all the apostles to observe this infamous beast of a donkey: may he
die squashed, this son of a hangman!” I do assure you he is the dearest
donkey, pretty and willing, but rather restive about stopping. The
Acetosa Spring is a mile and a half from the city, out Viale Parioli
way. It has been in use since the days of the Cæsars, perhaps since the
days of the Tarquins. The Romans take a course of _Aqua ’Cetosa_ every
summer; six weeks is the orthodox time; it is “cooling to the blood.” It
costs two cents a flask.

Signor Augusto Rotoli has written out for me the notes of several of the
cries. In the Acetosa score he has indicated the blows of the driver,
the kicks of the donkey, and finally the patter-patter of the poor
little beastie’s hoofs over the rough paving-stones of the Borgo Nuovo:


VENDITORE DELL’ AQUA ACETOSA.

     Nel silenzio del mattino, all’ alba, in distanza, e poi piu presso
     alla residenza--questo è un effetto molto caratteristico.[1]

[Illustration: Musical notation

Fre-sca, Fre-sca, l’a-qua-Ace-to-sa kaaaaa....
_Dando una bastonata al povera asinella che alza_
tirando calci.
]

At seven o’clock a herd of twenty goats is driven into the piazza by two
dark satyrs with shaggy thighs and flashing eyes, peasants in goat-skin
trousers they are from the Campagna. The children crowding round them in
the piazza, and I looking down from my terrace, watch them as they milk
their yellow-eyed beasts. Goats’ milk, Pompilia says, is good for
consumptives and delicate babies; I have not yet learned whether she
considers it heating or cooling to the blood. We are not allowed to have
_broccoli_, carrots, or mutton at this season because they are heating,
and are obliged to have more rennet than we like because it is cooling!

After the goats are gone the blackberry man comes. I like his cry best
of all, it is in a melancholy minor, “_More, more, chi vuol maniar le
more?--more fate!_” “Moors, moors, who wishes to eat moors?--ripe
moors!” Moors, if you please, because they are black!


IL VENDITORE DI MORE.

[Illustration: Musical notation

E li brugno-li fat-ti e chi ma-gna .... le mo-re ....
]

“Buy a broom” is far prettier in Italian--Romanesque, I should say--than
in English. At first we could not make out the words, the man seemed to
be singing “O! so far away!” The notes, long drawn out, pensive,
fascinating, like a sailor’s chantey, haunted us. “_O! scopare, cacc’
aragni!_” “O brooms, chase the spiders!” The latter are Turks’ heads on
the ends of long sticks, necessary for ceilings twenty feet high like
ours.


LO SCOPARO.

     Nella folla del giorno nel frastuono di carrozze e veicoli questo
     tono minore è molto rimarchevole.[2]

[Illustration: Musical notation

Lo scopa-ro a-ja-rc, Scac-cia ra-gno ....
]


VENDITORE DI PESCE.

[Illustration: Musical notation

Pe-scevi-vo ... ca-la-ma-ret-ti ....
]

“_Pesce vivo, calamaretti!_” “Live fish, little inkstands!” The
_calamaretti_, small cuttle-fish, are]

called little inkstands because of the black liquid--sepia, isn’t
it?--which they eject when attacked. Fried a golden brown and served
with fresh soles as a garnishing they are too good for common people.

The umbrella mender is a bit of a poet, he makes his cry rhyme.
“_Ombrellare. Chi ha ombrelle per raccomodare?_” “The umbrella man. Who
has umbrellas to mend?”

“_O ricotta, ricotta!_” When I hear this I run to the window, wave my
handkerchief, and the _ricotta_ man brings up a fresh goat’s-milk cheese
in a green wicker basket; it is a sort of spiritualized cottage cheese.
When quite new, eaten with _maritozzi_ warm from the bakery downstairs,
it makes a better luncheon than I can get at the Café di Roma.

“_Alice!_” (pronounced a-lee-chee) “anchovies,” is a strident cry which
we hear at intervals all day. Anchovies are a staple food with the lower
classes. At home I only remember them as an appetizer at some brutally
long dinner parties. The people eat anchovies with bread or with
macaroni; they are cheap, strong of flavor, and a little of them goes a
long way. We have them with _crostine_ and _provatura_ for luncheon
sometimes. _Provatura_ is cheese made of buffalo’s milk. Little crusts
of bread with alternate layers of _provatura_ and anchovies skewered
together like chickens’ livers and toasted make a pleasant dish.

One cry I do not like, “_aqua vita!_” short and sharp in the early
morning, as soon as the newsboys begin to shout “_Don Quichotte_”
“_Popolo Romano_,” “_Corriere_,” this cry comes like an antiphony.
“_Aqua vita!_” “Water of life?” Water of death! brandy.

We sent all the way to the English bakery in Via Babuino for our bread
till the day I met Count Luigi Primoli in the baker’s shop on the ground
floor of our palace; he was tucking a brown paper parcel into his
pocket. There had been a function at the Vatican. He had been to pay his
respects to Leo XIII., and on his way home had stopped to buy what he
told me were the best _maritozzi_ in Rome. The baker is an important
person; he owns his shop and four caged nightingales, which sing
divinely. We now buy our bread, flour, macaroni, and oil from him, and
he changes all the neat fifty-franc notes we get from the banker’s; he
can always be trusted to give honest money.

I soon found out that in all domestic affairs I must learn Italian
methods; it was useless to try and teach Pompilia and Filomena our ways.
After the tussle over the washing I gave it up. Set tubs, wash-boards,
wringing-machines? Nothing of that sort. On Sunday evening the clothes
are put in a large copper vessel, a basket-work cover is laid on top,
over which a layer of wood-ashes is spread. Boiling water is then poured
on slowly, percolating a little at a time through the clothes, which are
bleached by the lye of the ashes; this is the _bucato_. When they have
stood long enough in this witch’s cauldron the clothes are carried down
to the basement and washed with cold water in the vast stone fountains
of the palace, which we have the right to use one day in the week. The
women employ a stiff brush and the queerest green soap to scrub the
linen; if we have any table-cloths left at the end of six months, we
shall be lucky. The American clothes-pins and line I sent for are neatly
displayed in the kitchen as curiosities. We “hang out” on an iron
clothes-line to which the linen is tied by small pieces of twine, as it
was in the days of the Empress Faustina. We are no better than our
mothers! The clothes are sent out to a _stiratrice_ to be ironed.

Our cooking fuel costs us one dollar a week. Saturday morning the
_carbonaro_ arrives, carrying on his back a huge sack of charcoal, for
which I pay five francs. I am told it is ten cents too much, but one
must pay something for being “_forestieri_.” The cooking is done over
four little square holes filled with charcoal, set in a table of blue
and white tiles; a big hood overhead carries off the fumes; quite the
prettiest kitchen range I ever saw! The charcoal is kindled by means of
paper, little fagots, and a turkey-feather fan plied by old Nena. I like
my kitchen, it is full of such queer, nice pots and pans; a row of
deceitful copper saucepans hang along the wall, always bright, never
used, but brushed over with white of egg, which acts like a varnish to
protect the polish; a big white marble mortar, a long copper kettle for
the fish, and the green and yellow bowls and mixing dishes are my
favorite utensils. I foresee that the old brass _scaldino_ J. picked up
at the junk shop will some day serve as an ornament to the front hall at
home. We have a brace of warming-pans and the queerest metal box for
live charcoal. When you want a warm bath you fill your tub with cold
water, put hot coals in this box, screw it up tight, and put it into the
water, which it finally heats. Prehistoric? Fortunately, we prefer our
baths cold! Pompilia begged some slips from our geraniums, planted them
in empty kerosene cans, and now the kitchen window is bright with
flowers. Everything grows so quickly here that it is easier to have
plants than not.


August 16, 1894.

The _parroco_ (parish priest) has called. Filomena came all of a flutter
to summon me. The visit has raised us in our servants’ eyes; they have
never before lived with pagans or Protestants. I like the _parroco_. He
is a fine man of forty-five, evidently a peasant, but possessing that
assured, courteous manner the priests all have; it is wonderful, the
bearing and polish the Church gives them. The _parroco_ was rather
disturbed at being offered a cup of tea at five in the afternoon,--it
was stupid of me to have it brought in; the Anglo-Saxon association of
eating and drinking with sociability is hard to get rid of,--but he made
a long visit and gave me good advice about the local charities. The
gnawing poverty all about us is the drop of gall in our honeypot. Our
door is literally besieged by our poor neighbors and by begging monks
and nuns. At the _parroco’s_ suggestion we now divide what we can afford
to give between the benevolent society which looks after the sick and
old, the Trinitarian order of monks, and the Little Sisters of the Poor.
Besides these a man calls on Saturday morning from the “Holy Family” and
carries away a big bag filled with _robaccio_,--trash,--things that at
home would go into the ash-barrel.

General Booth must have got his idea of the Household Brigade from some
such institution, and I am learning new lessons in economy every day!
Nothing is wasted here, not the tiniest scrap of food nor the most
disreputable cast-off garment. My servants watch for my old shoes; three
pairs of eyes are fastened on them daily. You know how much more
precious old shoes are than new,--especially Appleton’s, which come all
the way from Boston? Well, yesterday I was shamed into giving away my
most cherished old boots and am wearing to-day a horrid stiff new pair.
Every night a bundle is smuggled out of the house full of odds and ends
of food which support a certain poor family whose grandmother has
attached herself to us. Her perquisites are the old newspapers, empty
bottles, stale cake and bread, sour milk, the very orange and lemon
peels, and the leavings from the servants’ table. I am so thankful there
is enough to fill the poor old blue market handkerchief, but it would
never do for me to show knowledge of its existence; that would spoil the
sport.

You ask about the comparative expense of life here. People who would be
called well off at home are rich in Rome; people we should consider poor
can live here with much comfort and some luxury. For instance, cabs cost
sixteen cents a course for two people, or forty cents an hour. I pay my
seamstress fifty cents a day, and my cook seven dollars a month; a
clever young Italian doctor, modern, up-to-date, well educated, is quite
satisfied with a dollar a visit. Good hotels (not the two or three most
extravagant) charge twelve francs (about two dollars and forty cents) a
day. Meat, chicken, eggs, fish, fruit, and vegetables are cheap; but all
imported groceries are horribly dear by reason of the fifty per cent.
duty they must pay. Coffee costs fifty cents a pound, sugar twenty,
American kerosene oil is sold in five-gallon cans for three
dollars--fancy! we pay more for petroleum than for olive oil or for
wine. Postage stamps, salt, and tobacco--all government monopolies--are
sold only at tobacconists’. Milk is not cheap; the best in Rome comes
from Prince Doria’s herd of Jerseys. Unfortunately, we are not on his
milkman’s route; our milk comes from the Villa Ada, which belongs to an
American lady, a daughter of Rogers, the sculptor. It is very good milk,
quite different from that we get at a pinch from the _vaccaria_ round
the corner, where in a dark, dreadful dungeon stable pale cows, with
long untrimmed hoofs, pass their melancholy lives. Pompilia is in
despair because we will drink our milk unboiled; when I saw the prisoner
cows I understood why. Italy is a poor country, and poor people can live
comfortably here. Rents, service, and food are all cheap; it may be a
paltry reason for abandoning one’s country that one can get more pork
for one’s shilling elsewhere, but it is a potent reason. Here in Rome
prices are all scaled to the different pockets. I pay less at the same
shops for the same things than my rich friends pay, but some things
even the rich cannot secure; certain conveniences--rapid transit, steam
heat, “rapid delivery,” express service--cannot be purchased, and, what
is really serious, good schooling is not to be had at any price, so few
Americans with children to educate settle in Rome. But for men and women
there is no school like Rome. Willy nilly, I learn something every time
I go out of doors, whether it be to the Appian Way, the Via Sacra, the
Forum, or to the Corso. The yellow Tiber, the fountains, the
nightingales of the Villa Medici, the ilex trees of the Borghese, seem
to whisper the secrets of the city with the mighty past, the mother and
law-giver of nations.

[Illustration: _The Appian Way_

From a photograph]



II

CADENABBIA--WOERISHOVEN--PFARRER SEBASTIAN KNEIPP


CADENABBIA, LAKE OF COMO, August 29, 1894.

I fear the vagabond instinct is the strongest one I have, for I was glad
to leave Rome a week ago--to leave _my_ Rome, think of it! with its
galleries all to myself, and its churches, and no tourists; still, the
fleas had become too vicious, and all the “lame ducks” were upon
me--shabby gentlemen attached to the Vatican, seedy artists with
portfolios of unsold sketches, decayed gentlewomen professing Dante and
lacking pupils--for the foreign colony, by which they live, has
dissolved, and we were the last Anglo-Saxons left in town except some
young secretaries of the British Embassy.

Unless one has seen the Sistine Chapel at noon on a blazing August day
one has not really seen it. The figure of Adam receiving the touch of
Life from the Creator is, for me, the highest expression of the art of
painting. The hours I spent across the way at the Vatican and St.
Peter’s made up for any small inconveniences of the heat I may have
suffered. If one is to pass a summer in a city instead of in your green
Maine woods, many-fountained Rome is the city of all others! There are
no mosquitoes,--literally, we have neither a bar nor a netting in the
house--the nights are cool, the citizens are too poor to go away in any
appreciable number, so there is none of that desolate feeling which
makes London a Desert of Sahara in August, and Paris worse. But the heat
of the last week of August drove us to the Italian lake country, and
here we are at Cadenabbia--from _Ca’ di Nabbia_, house of Nabby, an old
woman who once lived in a little hut, or _ca’_, on the shore. It is one
of the most beautiful places on earth.

I am writing before breakfast. Outside my window is the Lake of Como
with its mountains. On one side there is deep purple shadow, the other
palpitates with light. Soon we shall have coffee and green figs in the
_pergola_ below, under the canopy of grape-leaves. Cadenabbia is all
villas and hotels; behind, half way up the hill, is the village of
Griente, to reach which we climb steep streets of steps paved with round
cobbles. Griente is all gray stone, with delicious arches spanning the
narrow ways. The syndic’s house stands apart; his fat wife and pretty
daughter seem always to be sitting sewing before the door. The _padre_,
a dear old man, showed us his garden and called our attention to the
trellis he had contrived for his grapes. We must taste his wine, made
from these Muscats--made, I warrant, by his own hands. We did taste it
and found it excellent.

“_Sapete, Signori_,” he said, “_un goccettino di vino e’ buona per lo
stomaco_ (Know, Signors, that a little drop of wine is good for the
stomach).” St. Paul was of his way of thinking.

J. has been seized with a fury of sketching; he goes every day to
Griente and draws and draws! The old women and the children make much of
him. Yesterday he heard one boy say to another, “It must be very hard to
paint and smoke a pipe at the same time.”

“_Ma ché!_” said the other, “he only does it for bravado!”

The other day he frescoed a lad’s nose with vermilion like a Cherokee
brave’s; since then all the boys in the district torment him for the
ends of his pastels.

This is one of the prosperous provinces of Italy. The town of Como has
silk manufactories, where the best Italian silk stockings are made and
the nicest of the piece silks. There is a feeling of comparative _bien
être_ in all classes which adds much to one’s own comfort. The flood of
travellers that pours through here brings a certain prosperity, though I
incline to think it a specious one. Everybody asks, “What would Italy do
without the tourists?” Perhaps if the people were not so busy making
silly knicknacks to sell to tourists, they would pay more attention to
cultivating their land. Improved agricultural methods are what Italy
needs above all else; she has the finest soil and climate in Europe; she
could supply half the continent with fruit, oil, and wine if she had a
little more common sense! I have seen oranges and lemons rotting under
the trees at Sorrento, and in Calabria I have seen grapes used to enrich
the soil! This is not because the Italians are “lazy”--“lazy Italians!”
there never was a more unjust reproach borne by any people--the Italian
peasants are the hardest-worked people I know. They tug and toil just to
put bread in their mouths; they almost never taste meat. Last Sunday
afternoon at the railroad station in Rome the floor and platform were
covered with sleeping peasants waiting for the train to take them to
their work. Each man carried round his neck seven loaves of coarse bread
strung on a piece of rope, his week’s rations,--dry bread, with a
“finger” of wine to moisten it if he is lucky! It is evident that they
are willing to work, and yet Italy is miserably poor! Somebody is
blundering somewhere, I am too rank an outsider to know who. Some
foreign writers lay every ill Italy endures to the heavy taxes the
government has imposed. I am not so sure that what Italy has got in the
last quarter century is not worth the price she has paid for it. There
are abuses, steals, a bureaucracy, and a prodigious megalomania (swelled
head), but the people are learning to read and write!

That reminds me of what I heard Sir William Vernon Harcourt say at a
luncheon in Rome. Some one asked where he was staying. “I am stopping at
the Hotel Royal opposite to the Ministry of Finance,” he said. “Strange
that Italy should have the largest finance building in the world and the
smallest finances!” The folly of putting up these mammoth public
buildings, these dreadful monuments to Victor Emmanuel, Garibaldi,
Cavour, and the other great men who brought about the _Risorgimento_, is
appalling; but Italy is realizing her mistakes; she is learning at an
astonishing rate.


WOERISHOVEN, BAVARIA, September 20, 1894.

I have been banished by bronchitis from the Eden, Cadenabbia, and have
come to Father Kneipp’s Water-Cure, near Munich, although it is a little
late in the season to take the “cure.” It is _de rigueur_ before seeing
Father Kneipp to consult a regular practitioner, who pronounces whether
or no you are a fit subject; people with weak hearts are not allowed to
take the cure. I paid a small sum, became a member of the Kneipp Verein,
received a blank-book--in which the _medico_ wrote out a diagnosis--and
a ticket stating the hour of my appointment with “the _Pfarrer_,” as
Father Kneipp is called. I arrived a little before time at an immense
barrack of a place like the waiting-room at a railroad station. The door
to the consulting-room was guarded by two functionaries who read aloud
our numbers as our turn came, looking carefully at the tickets before
letting any one enter.

“_Einundzwanzig!_” (twenty-one), and I passed into the long room and
stood before Father Kneipp, like a prisoner at the bar. He is one of the
most powerful-looking men I have ever seen; his eyes pierced me through
and through. I handed him the book with the diagnosis. He read it,
grunted, ruminated, bored me with a second auger glance, then dictated
my course of treatment to one of his secretaries, a callow _cherico_ who
sat beside him at a long table with three or four other men.

I found out afterwards that they were young doctors studying his
methods. Father Kneipp spoke to me rather sharply, going directly to the
point. Never mind what he said, I deserved it, I shall not forget it,
and, like Dr. Johnson, “I think to mend!” “Come again in a fortnight,”
he said suddenly. The consultation was over and I was ushered out. I had
not reached the door when “_Zweiundzwanzig_,” a crippled boy, a far more
interesting case than mine, came in.

Father Kneipp dislikes women, ladies especially, me in particular,
because no one had warned me not to wear gloves, a veil, and a good
bonnet. If I had put an old shawl over my head and looked generally
forlorn, he would have been kinder. Isn’t that dear? His benevolence is
of the aggressive type; he grudges time spent on rich people,--is only
reconciled to them, in fact, because they offer up gifts in return for
health, and in this way a great sanitarium has grown up where the prince
is nearly as well treated as the peasant--but it is the peasant folk,
his own people, that the _Pfarrer_ loves! This is the only truly
democratic community I have ever lived in,--a pure democracy governed by
a benevolent despot! The despot is past seventy years old; he has an
aldermanic figure, a rough peasant head, and extraordinary bristling
white eyebrows, standing out a good two inches from his pent-house
brows. His coloring is like an old English country squire’s,--brick-red
skin, bright blue eyes, and silver hair. He is a prelate; so his rusty
black cassock is piped with purple silk, and he wears a tiny purple
skull-cap. His two inseparables were with him, a long black cigar and a
white Spitz dog....

       *       *       *       *       *

The fortnight is almost up, the cough gone, the vitality come. Yesterday
I went to hear one of the Father’s health talks in the big, open hall,
free to all. Good, practical common sense was what he gave us, nothing
new or startling,--just the wholesome advice of a very wise old man.
Enthusiasm and common sense are his weapons. After it was over we waited
to see him come out. A group of bores hung on to him; one sentimentalist
caught his hand and tried to kiss it, which so enraged the _Pfarrer_
that he gave the fellow a slap!

Such people! If you could only hear them testify to their cures, like
lepers and the halt in the Bible! Tell Anagnos that two blind men say
they have been cured here this summer. The applications were general,
not local, save bathing the eyes in warm straw water. Sounds simple,
doesn’t it? One had been blind four years, the other longer. Atrophy of
the nerves of the eye was the trouble in both cases. The younger man was
going away in despair after a few weeks’ treatment. He drove to the
station, got into the train; _suddenly he saw something moving_, cars
going in the other direction! He got out again, returned to Woerishoven,
persevered with the treatment, and now sees!

A South African couple sit at my table; they have come all the way from
Cape Town. For seventeen long years the husband suffered with nervous
dyspepsia, whatever that may be. One summer at Woerishoven has cured
him. Does this sound like Paine’s Celery Compound? I learn as much from
the other patients as in any other way. Herr Schnell, a German New
Yorker,--a hardware man,--and his wife are my best friends. She first
spoke to me at table.

“Dot caffee is not good for _Ihnen_. _Sie müssen Wasser trinken_.”

“I am here for my throat,” I told her; “I only need hardening; besides,
Father Kneipp drinks coffee.”

“Dot _Pfarrer_ is not _krank_--sick, how you say?”

My dear, she actually sent the coffee away, and forbade the _kellner_
ever to bring it to me again! The Schnells and I patronize the same
fruit-stand, and we walk up and down after meals together, eating grapes
out of brown paper bags. A certain forlorn Pole at our table interests
me; he is called Count Chopski, or some such name. His nerves are
shattered by too much cigarette smoking. Frau Schnell and I came upon
him in the wood the other day, sitting behind a big tree smoking. Frau
Schnell marched up to him, took the cigarette out of his hand, and gave
him a scolding for smoking on the sly. He began to cry!

I am at the best hotel, which is of a simplicity! Big people and little
people all sit down to the half-past-twelve dinner; only royalties
(there are always some of them here) are allowed to keep any state. At
the table next mine a bishop and a ballet-dancer sit side by side; it is
an open joke to all of us, except the bishop, who doesn’t know, and
nobody will tell him,--I call that nice feeling. In all my life I have
never met with such simple kindliness as there is here; it’s a sort of
Kingdom-come place, where everybody feels responsible for everybody
else. Nothing of the am-I-my-brother’s-keeper feeling here! Of course,
it is all _Pfarrer_ Kneipp; the whole atmosphere of place and people is
the expression of a great, ardent heart which beats for sick humanity,
which rages against all shams and cruelties. His spirit is like my
father’s, the atmosphere here more like that of the old Institution for
the Blind in his day than anything I have ever known.

When Sebastian Kneipp was a young student preparing for the priesthood
(he was the son of a poor weaver) his health broke down so completely
that he was obliged to give up his studies. One day in a convent library
he stumbled on a copy of Preissnitz’s book on water-cure. Impressed by
the theory, he persuaded a fellow-student in the same predicament as
himself to join him in putting it into practice. It was midwinter. The
two lads broke the ice from a neighboring stream in which they took
their baths. Heroic treatment, but it saved them; both soon regained
their health. Kneipp finished his course of study, took orders, returned
to his native village of Woerishoven as parish priest, and has remained
here ever since.

From the beginning he seems to have been more interested in curing his
parishioners’ bodies than in saving their souls. He tells of being
called to administer the last sacrament to a dying man. The moment he
saw him he threw away book and candle, called for a pail of water and a
linen sheet, put the patient in a wet pack, and saved his life. For many
years the _Pfarrer_ only practised among his peasant neighbors.
Gradually his fame spread to the surrounding villages, to the city of
Munich, to other cities. People began to flock to Woerishoven from all
over Germany, France, Europe, America, till finally this obscure
Bavarian hamlet has become one of the world’s great Meccas of health.

The only person who makes any effort for society is an Austrian
countess, a great court lady. She has taken a tiny cottage, brought her
own cook, maid, and butler from Vienna, and tries to give “at homes.” I
heard some good music at her rooms the other day. Somehow she had
managed to draw together half a dozen people of the sort that can make
“society” in the prison of La Jacquerie, on an ocean steamer, or even at
a German cure,--an Austrian officer, an English diplomat, a French abbé,
my Polish count, and the musician, who is a real artist. We walked with
the gods for that hour; the pianist gave us whatever we asked
for--Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, Grieg. It was a _Kaffee-klatsch_
without the coffee (all stimulants are forbidden, even tea and coffee);
the butler handed--scornfully, I thought--milk and grapes. The party
broke up rather hurriedly at sunset, everybody rushing away to get their
_Wassertreten_ before dark. Water treading is to wade up to one’s knees
in one of the streams which run through the fields. Very pleasant, very
comic--fortunately, there is a male stream and a female stream; such
chippendales! such piano legs have I seen! It is all so strange, so
_echt deutsch_! The countess does not harmonize with the rest, she is
out of key. I meet her at seven o’clock in the morning, her feet, head,
neck, and arms bare, strolling over the wet grass, a lovely, incongruous
vision; her hair dressed and “_ondulée_” in the latest fashion; her
parasol, rose-colored satin. Now, a rose-colored satin parasol at
Woerishoven is a false note in a pastoral symphony. She worships Father
Kneipp; they all say she owes him her life; he cannot endure her, has
attacked her almost openly in his talks; he will not tolerate folly,
vanity, or worldliness; she personifies--oh, so charmingly--all three!
She wears the prescribed dress of coarse Kneipp linen with such a
difference; the other women look like meal-sacks; she has the lines of a
Greek goddess.

In the early morning all the patients walk barefoot through the wet
grass. Those who have been here longest go without shoes and stockings
all day. I am told it is delightful to walk bare foot in the new-fallen
snow. Women’s skirts reach only to the ankles; men wear knickerbockers.
The only foot-gear allowed at Woerishoven is the leather sandal,
classic and comfortable. Newcomers begin by wearing the sandal over the
stocking, then the stocking is left off for half an hour--an
hour--finally for the whole day. An hour and a half after breakfast and
dinner a cold douche is taken. The _blitzguss_ (lightning douche) is for
people who have been taking the cure for some time, the _rumpf_ (body)
douche is commonly prescribed for new arrivals. At the ladies’ bath
attached to this hotel a rosy _mädchen_ plays the hose upon the patient
with skill and firmness. That ordeal over, the dripping victim scrambles
hastily into her clothes--drying and rubbing are forbidden--and
exercises vigorously until she is perfectly dry and warm. The
exhilaration which follows is indescribable. In the exercise-room
attached to the largest bath, I have seen a bishop capering, a princess
sawing wood, a fat American millionaire pirouetting with a balancing
pole. No one laughs; it is too grave a matter. You dance or prance, box,
saw wood, or do calisthenics for your life--anything to get up the
circulation!

Bavaria is enchanting, Bavarians are delightful, not at all like other
Germans, more like the Tyrolese,--simple, kind, deeply religious. I
cannot imagine becoming a “convert” in Rome, but here it would be
easier. Why should the people of Catholic countries have better manners
than those of Protestant lands? I know you will bring up some old saw
about sincerity and truth not always being compatible with suavity! We
can’t be _all_ right and they _all_ wrong, “and yet and yet” it is known
that the Pope keeps his own private account at the Bank of Protestant
England! Does this mean that he, like the Italians I meet every day, is
readier to trust an Englishman or an American than his own countrymen?

I keep thinking of him, my neighbor in Rome, the Prisoner of the
Vatican, shut up between the walls of his vast garden through all the
long summer. I used to look at his windows and wonder if he felt the
heat as much as I did in those last August days before we came away on
our _villeggiatura_. No _villeggiatura_ for him, he is still there! The
“Black Pope” (as the power of the Jesuit is called) is his gaoler,--not
good King Humbert, as you may have been led to suppose,--but a prison is
a prison, whoever the gaoler may be.

I am learning all I can about the German Kaiser. I am inclined to think
he plays the strongest game at the European card-table. The Bavarians I
have talked with seem rather bored by him; they compare him unfavorably
with poor, dear, mad King Ludwig and his father, great art patrons,
both.

The Prussians think their Kaiser the greatest man on earth. I gather
from one of their number that the court people are harried by him beyond
belief; he is forever interfering with their private affairs. A young
officer with an English wife and English tastes set up a tandem in
Berlin last winter. He received a message from the Emperor requesting
him not to drive one horse before the other! How can they bear it? When
we first arrived the Kaiser had lately been at Rome and people were
still telling stories of him. The Italians are not over-fond of his
visits; he costs a great deal to entertain and is too much given to
dropping in to tea! He stayed at the Quirinal Palace, the guest of the
King. As such, etiquette forbade his visiting the Pope. You don’t
suppose he let a little thing like that interfere! On a certain day the
German Ambassador to the Vatican (you understand there are two
Ambassadors, don’t you, one to the King, one to the Pope?) received
notice that the Emperor was to be his guest for the morrow. The
Ambassador, a bachelor of simple tastes, prepared for the imperial visit
as best he could. The Emperor arrived with a portmanteau, made one of
his lightning changes, and came down to breakfast. The breakfast-table
was a bright spot, a friend having lent a fine service of silver and
some wonderful Venetian glass. When the Kaiser saw the display he cried
out, “Mein Gott, A----, where did you steal all these?” Rather nice,
wasn’t it? After they had “eated and drinked,” as your children say, a
carriage, come all the way from Berlin, with horses, harnesses, and
servants to match, drove up to the door and carried the Emperor off to
call on the Pope! It would not have been etiquette to use the Italian
royal carriage to pay the papal visit!

Prince Doria’s ball for the Kaiser at the splendid Palazzo Doria--one of
the finest of the Roman palaces--must have been gorgeous; the picture
gallery was a blaze of glory,--you remember there the great Velasquez
portrait of Pope Innocent X.?--all the jewels in Rome were present
except the emeralds of the Pope’s tiara. When he went away the Kaiser
said to Prince Doria,--

“We shall be very glad to see you and the Princess at Potsdam, but we
cannot show you anything like this.” Handsome of him, wasn’t it?

When the Kaiser went sightseeing to St. Peter’s he admired my fountains.
Well he might! After watching them leap and play for some time he said,
“Turn them off now; it’s a pity to waste so much water.” Thrifty, eh?
Turn off Carlo Maderno’s tireless fountains, which have danced in the
sun and shimmered in the moon nigh three hundred years!



III

A VISIT TO QUEEN MARGARET


PALAZZO RUSTICUCCI, ROME, December 7, 1894.

Yesterday was _sirocco_. In consequence the house was full of fine sand
blown up from the African desert and everybody was out of humor; it is
curious how this soft wind sets people’s nerves on edge. In spite of
_sirocco_, I saw the King and Queen going to open Parliament. The King,
Prince of Naples, and two officers were in the first crystal and gilt
coach, the Queen her mother the Duchess of Genoa, and a gentleman of the
court in the next. The horses, trappings, coachmen, and footmen were
magnificent. There were three servants to each of the six royal
carriages--one on the box, two standing behind. They wore scarlet coats,
white wigs, three-cornered hats, and pink silk stockings. The King and
the Prince were in uniform, the Queen and her mother in the latest
French fashion. Little Gwennie Story (the granddaughter of our dear old
friends the William Storys) was dreadfully disappointed when she found
that the Queen did not always wear a crown. I sympathize with her. I
had a place in the loggia of the Palazzo Montecitorio--where Parliament
meets--and saw the royalties step out of their carriages and enter the
palace.


January 21, 1895.

Yesterday I went to the annual memorial mass for Victor Emmanuel at the
Pantheon. The noble old temple--the only one of the Roman buildings
which has been in continuous use since it was erected in the first
century--was hung with black and cloth of gold. A huge catafalque stood
in the middle, directly under the open dome; the whole interior was
lighted by classic torches, urns, and tripods holding blue fire. A
tribune had been constructed for the orchestra and singers. The music, a
mass of Cherubini’s, was very fine. The catafalque was surrounded by a
double line of men who stood facing one another through the long
service. The men of the outer circle were soldiers of the King, the men
of the inner ring were priests of the Church, for Victor Emmanuel was a
good Catholic and died in the faith.

I was in Rome for the first time in 1878, the last winter of his life. I
often saw him driving on the Pincio or in the Corso. He was an
extraordinary-looking man, fierce, powerful, bizarre, every inch a king;
loved and hated accordingly. I remember the intense excitement when the
two old enemies, Pius the Ninth and Victor Emmanuel, both lay dying in
the city for which they had fought. Would the King be permitted to
receive the sacrament? When it was known that the Pope on his death-bed
had sent his blessing to the King _in extremis_ all Rome drew a long
breath. We went to see _Il Re Galantuomo_ lying in state in the _capella
ardente_ at the Quirinal. He was dressed in full uniform with high
riding-boots, the royal robe of red velvet and ermine was spread over
the inclined plane on which he lay, the crown and sceptre at his feet.
The chapel blazed with candles; in each of the four corners knelt a
brown Capuchin monk telling his beads. Signor Simone Peruzzi,
chamberlain to the King, watched one night beside the body. He was alone
for the moment when he heard a deep sigh, saw the King’s breast heave.
The matter was explained by the physicians afterwards. I remember to
this day the thrill in Peruzzi’s voice when he spoke of the dead King’s
sigh.


March 10, 1895.

Mrs. Potter Palmer and I have had a private audience with the Queen. The
visit went off very well. We arrived at the Quirinal Palace at two
o’clock, and were received by the Marchesa Villamarina and two other
court ladies, with whom we talked for perhaps ten minutes. A tiny old
woman dressed in mourning, looking like the Fairy Blackstick, came out
from her audience just as we entered the Queen’s reception-room for
ours. She must have been a privileged person, for we had been warned not
to wear black and not to wear hats, bonnets being _de rigueur_. As I do
not own a bonnet, Mrs. Palmer kindly lent me a charming one, fresh from
Paris--a few days later, when she was received by the Pope, she wore my
Spanish mantilla. The Queen, who was seated on a sofa, rose as we
entered and shook hands cordially with us. She is still beautiful, her
hair magnificent, her eyes kind and keen. When you visit royalty you
must only speak when you are spoken to; the choice of the topic of
conversation thus remains with the royal personage. You must always say
“your Majesty,” and you must make three reverences on entering and
leaving the presence. In all this, I was tutored by Marion Crawford, who
has often been “received,” and whose books the Queen is said to read
with pleasure. She speaks English perfectly, by the way. She had seen an
article in a late magazine--_The Century_, I think--on American country
houses; she spoke of those at Newport, and said that, “judging from the
illustrations, they must be very fine.” She showed us a grand piano at
the end of the room, saying that it was an American instrument, a
Steinway, and that “it had a very brilliant action.” With Mrs. Palmer
the Queen spoke of the World’s Fair. Mr. MacVeagh had presented her with
a copy of the book I edited on the Woman’s Department of the Chicago
Exposition. The audience lasted about twenty minutes; then the Queen
rose, the signal for us to withdraw. We made our three courtesies and
backed successfully from the room. The Queen is much beloved; she has
real charm, besides being good and clever.

Yesterday I went to Mr. William Story’s studio. The garden is lovelier
than ever, the climbing vines that mask the dead wall make a rustling
screen of cool green in which the birds build their nests. I waited in
the studio among the statues--most of them old friends of mine--and
found my particular tassel on the fringed robe of the marble
Sardanapalus. One day, seventeen years ago, when Mr. Story was working
on the clay, he let me take his modelling tool and add a few touches to
the fringe. I have seen a copy of this statue in Lord Battersea’s fine
house in London opposite the Marble Arch of Hyde Park. When Mr. Story
came in--much as you remember him, the same graceful, brilliant talker,
only with a new pensive note since his wife’s death--we talked of the
old days at Dieppe, of the meetings in the studio there, when he and my
mother read aloud from the books they were writing, and Mrs. Story gave
us tea and read us Mallock’s “New Republic,” published that year; it
must have been the summer of 1878. Mr. Story remembered the mornings on
the _plage_ when we sat on the warm sea sand under big red umbrellas
watching “the boys” tumbling in the surf, and mamma’s calling Waldo “the
amber god,” and Julian “a young leopard,” as he swam and dove through
the waves like a merman. I reminded him of the little poem he wrote in
our autograph book, and showed him the locket Mrs. Story gave me with a
picture of herself and Pippa, the funny little pug dog she took with
her wherever she went. We both remembered how Pippa behaved the day they
left Dieppe when she saw the handbag in which she always travelled. She
bit and scratched the bag, whined and generally remonstrated. Once
inside the satchel, however, she was perfectly quiet and never betrayed
her presence by barking _en route_.

Mr. Story showed me the monument he is modelling for Mrs. Story’s
grave--a kneeling figure of an angel leaning over a classic altar. The
face, every line of the figure, every finger of the hand, each feather
of the drooping wings seems to weep. He calls it the Genius of Grief.
This last expression of a great life love gripped me by the heart. It is
to be placed in the Protestant cemetery here (where lovely Jennie
Crawford is buried) not far from the corner where the ashes of Shelley
were interred, and near the tombstone of Keats with its familiar
inscription,--

“Here lies one whose name is writ in water.”


ST. AGNELLO DI SORRENTO, March 18, 1895.

Last Monday we left Rome in a rain-storm and came here to break up a
pair of obstinate colds. We are delightfully established at the
Cocumella, an old Jesuit monastery turned into a hotel. There is less of
what Hawthorne calls the odor of sanctity--a peculiar mildewed smell the
monks leave behind them--than is usual in such places. Our windows
command an astonishing view of the Bay of Naples and Mt. Vesuvius. To
the right, about a quarter of a mile away, is Villa Crawford, where we
are most kindly welcomed by the ladies; the man of the house is away.
The children are charming; the villa ideal; it stands on the edge of a
high cliff leaning over the sea. The grounds, filled with flowers and
fruit-trees, are seamed with quaintly paved walks. On the left of the
house is a terrace, where they dine in summer. Here a flaming heart in
gray and white paving-stones took my fancy. The house is large and
luxurious; there are roses everywhere inside and out.

To-day is Palm Sunday. The chambermaid who brings my morning coffee
brought me a bit of olive-branch, instead of palm, from early service.
Later we went to high mass at the cathedral in Sorrento. The procession
was headed by the bishop, his acolytes, and some smart young canons in
rose-colored satin capes. After the mass the procession marched through
the town, led by a group of bronzed fishermen and boys dressed in white
robes, with bright blue _moiré_ capes, and loose oriental white hoods
over their heads. They all carried yellow palm branches in their hands.
It was the most perfect contrast of color imaginable.

Yesterday I saw the nets hauled in. The men and women, old and young,
form a line upon the beach, take hold upon the rope, and with a
graceful, swinging motion pull in the seine inch by inch, as they did in
the days of St. Peter. The Sorrentines are a handsome and seem a kindly
people; there are comparatively few beggars here.

Throughout the _Piano di Sorrento_ thousands of men and women are
employed in the manufacture of silk stockings, scarfs, carved and inlaid
wood, coral ornaments, tortoise-shell combs, and jewelry. I dare not
enter a shop for fear of temptation. The Italian spoken is far
pleasanter than the nasal Neapolitan; the chief peculiarity is the
dropping of the final vowel. Maria, the dark-eyed chambermaid, asks if
she shall make the _lett_, for _letto_ (bed), and speaks of Sorrent,
_doman_, and _Sabad_, meaning Sorrento, _domani_ (to-morrow), and
_Sabato_ (Saturday).

The trees in the garden are laden with oranges and lemons, the feast of
the roses is beginning, the birds are singing. The service of the hotel
is excellent, the table quite good enough, our room has a fireplace and
afternoon sun; for all this, food and wine included, we pay six
francs--one dollar and twenty cents--a day, with permission to roam in
the garden and pick as many oranges and roses as we like. I am reminded
of Hugh Norman’s saying, “When I have only a dollar and a half a day
left to live on, I shall retire to the Cocumella and pass the rest of my
life there.” We have _uva secca_ for luncheon, grapes dipped in wine and
spices, rolled up with bits of citron in grape-leaves, tied in little
bundles, and roasted. They may be kept half the year, and are among the
dainties of the world. The miniature Italian count who married Mrs. Tom
Thumb, _veuve_, said when he came to take tea at our house, “_In Italia
si mangia bene_ (In Italy one eats well).” He was right; we hear less
about Italian than about French cookery, but it is quite as good--the
range of dishes is wider and shows more imagination. There is a great
deal about cooking in my letters; so there is in life. Fire, cookery,
and civilization seem to be inseparable. Speaking of fire, the women
about here say that Vesuvius, across the bay there, sets a bad example
smoking his eternal pipe. The men sit watching him, presently they
imitate him, and try and see how big a cloud of smoke they can make.

Vesuvius dominates the whole landscape. He finally got the better of us,
drew us like a magnet; so, finding that the ascent can be made from here
as well as anywhere, we gave a day to it. The road, an ascending spiral,
embraces the great black mountain like the coils of a serpent. At first
it leads through pleasant vineyards; when these are left behind the
dreadful lava fields begin. The weird forms of the petrified rivers of
lava, once red and molten, now grim and black, suggest human bodies
writhing in the clutch of horrid monsters. Here a huge trunk madly
wrenches itself from the toils, there a vast body lies supine and
agonized, the last resistance passed. When we left our carriage at the
foot of the funicular railway, I felt I had passed through several
circles of the Inferno. Dante must have received many of the impressions
he transmits to us from Vesuvius. At the summit, when I looked down into
the crater, at the slippery, slimy sides, with their velvet bloom of
sulphur, I saw where the fathers of the Church and the early painters,
Fra Angelico among them, got their ideas of hell. Marcus Aurelius, my
guide, bibulous, muscular, with a grip of iron, found a point from
which, when the wind lifted the veil of thick white smoke, I could, by
leaning well over the crater, see the flood at the bottom surge, seethe,
toss up from its depth big, red-hot stones, which dropped back again
while the mountain roared and scolded. It was an awesome day. Vesuvius
has given me not only a new understanding of the poetry and religion of
Italy, but of the volcanic Italian character, which it surely has had a
share in forming. On our way down we ran over a soldier, the front wheel
of our carriage passing across his leg. As we were three people in the
carriage, it must have hurt him, but he got up and walked nimbly off,
cursing us vehemently. I wish the Abyssinians might find the Italian
soldiers equally invincible in Africa.


ST. AGNELLO DI SORRENTO, Easter Sunday, 1895.

I find the services of Holy Week more impressive here than in Rome.
Thursday afternoon, on a lonely road by the sea, we heard a strange,
primitive chanting,--the music might have been Palestrina’s,--and came
suddenly upon a procession led by children carrying the usual emblems of
the Passion, and some I have never seen before. The story of the
betrayal and the crucifixion was told by symbols, the basin of Pilate,
the cock and sword of Peter, the bag of Judas, the scourge, the pillar,
the spear, the sponge, the cross, the hammer and nails, the crown of
thorns, and the winding-sheet. The washing of the apostles’ feet at the
cathedral Holy Thursday was really moving. A dozen poor old fishermen,
scrubbed as clean as possible, represented the twelve; they were each
rewarded by a loaf of bread and a franc at the end of the service. Early
Good Friday morning, before the sun was up, a band of peasants passed
through the town bearing a life-sized image of the Madonna dressed all
in white, going out to look for her son. After sundown they returned,
bringing back the mother from her search, clad in mourning robes. She
had found her son; behind her the figure of the dead Christ was carried
on a bier. The people stood gravely watching the bearers as they passed
through the dark, torch-lit streets. On Saturday, as we were driving, a
cannon sounded at twelve o’clock in token of the resurrection. Our
driver threw himself from the cab and, touching his head to the ground
three times, remained kneeling long enough to repeat several _aves_.


PALAZZO RUSTICUCCI, ROME, March 27, 1895.

We were glad to get back to Rome, and to the terrace, where the
wall-flowers are out, and daffodils, pansies, primroses, forget-me-nots,
and lilies-of-the-valley. Two large lilac-bushes and three spiræa will
be in bloom by Sunday. There is snow on the Leonessa; it is a trifle
chilly up here on the terrace where I write, but it is near “peaks and
stars” and very near peace. I weed the flowers, and collect the snails
that prey upon our pansies and threaten our roses. The awful gardens
where Nero’s living torches flamed lay just below my windows, where the
Piazza of St. Peter’s is now. Soracte, the Leonessa, with all the rest
of the purple Alban hills, looked down on that sight as calmly as they
look on my lilies and me. There is no place in the world where one feels
so small as in Rome. The sunflowers come up, each with his little burst
shell of seed on his head, which he soon throws away; so the lesson of
the new life springing from the old is studied in the shadow of Angelo’s
dome. The great church greeted me like a friend. Tourists criticise the
architecture: I do not deny faults, I only do not see them.

We have a nightingale of our own at last. His name is Pan. He sings
gloriously. What a thrill his voice has! We feed him on bullock’s heart.
Jeremy Bentham, the tortoise, knew me; he never was so friendly before;
he now snaps fresh lettuce-leaves out of my hand without trying to nip
my fingers. Our great Thomas cat threatened Pan, and my life was a
constant struggle to keep them apart, so I have sent Pan to the studio,
where J. has a falcon and two pigeons. He threatens to buy a jackdaw,
and was with difficulty restrained from purchasing a baby fox. It was
such an engaging little animal that I confess to have wanted it myself.
The happy family at the studio is cared for by Vincenzo, a young
painter, a scholar of J.’s. In the old days, when J. was a pupil of
Villegas, Vincenzo was the studio boy who washed their brushes. J.
thinks he has some talent and has given him a whole floor in his great
barrack of a studio.

Pompilia and Filomena had swept and garnished the house with flowers in
honor of our return. All our friends and our small world of hangers-on
(the ancient Romans called them clients) welcomed us kindly, with the
single exception of the porter.

Porters seem to be natural enemies, like mothers-in-law. We all know
shining exceptions, but the rule commonly holds good of both. None of
our friends are on speaking terms with their porters. Our old porter was
dreadful--dirty, drunk, disreputable. At first the new one seemed a
treasure. J. had recommended him for the place chiefly on account of his
lovely tenor voice. The man--we call him Ercole “because it is his
name”--used to sit at work (he is a mender of leather) on the sidewalk
opposite the studio singing airs from the latest operas, Bohême,
Pagliacci, Iris, but singing them like an artist. It helped J., shut up
at his work in the big studio, to hear him, and in a reckless moment he
spoke to Signor Mazzocchi about the singing saddler. Behold him
installed with his big, white-haired wife, Maria, his little daughter,
Lucrezia, brown and bonnie, in a grim room without light or air (you
would not put a cat in such a hole)--still, an improvement on their
former quarters. The landlord is responsible for the porter’s wages. We
give him a _mancia_ of ten francs a month, extras for extra service,
and a present at Christmas and at Easter. His duty towards us is to
receive our cards and letters and bring them up the three long flights
of stairs. Our mail grew staler and staler. The Paris New York _Herald_
(read by all Americans in Europe), instead of being served with
breakfast, arrived barely in time for luncheon. J. had built on the
first landing a little open stall, light and airy, where Ercole could
stitch his old saddles and harnesses and sing his jolly songs. Alas and
alas! there is a wine-shop opposite the palace, there is a _trattoria_
on the ground floor next the baker’s; both proprietors are generous and
soft-hearted. Somehow the fat wife, the slim daughter, are fed, but
Ercole stitches no longer, sings no more. Sober and poor, a rival to
Pan. Rich and drunk, he is sourly silent. It is a dangerous thing to
play at being providence! The _postino_ now brings up the mail and
delivers it at our door, _ultimo piano_ (top floor).


February, 1896.

Last week I took Isabel to a ball at the Princess del Drago’s. We have
kept Ercole up at night a good deal lately, so I took the key of the
big _portone_ and told him that he need not wait for us. Isabel’s maid,
Franceline, was to sit up and open the old green door of our apartment
the key of which weighs two pounds and will not go into my pocket. We
wore our very best gowns and trinkets, and Isabel had a pretty tinsel
ribbon in her hair which sparkled like diamonds. It was a great dance;
the drive home at three in the morning under a full silver moon, past
Hilda’s tower, the fountain of the Triton, and the hospital of Santo
Spirito was as far as I was concerned not the least of the fun. We met a
few empty cabs returning to their stables, and just as we entered the
Borgo Nuovo we passed a pair of grave _carabinieri_ (military police)
pacing their beat, wrapped in long black cloaks, their three-cornered
hats drawn over their eyes. Our good coachman Cesare opened the
_portone_, found and lighted the candle left on the lower step, as had
been arranged, and bade us good-night. We picked up our skirts and went
up the two easy flights chattering about the party. At the second
landing we stopped beside the Etruscan ladies to rest before breasting
the third short, steep flight. I rang softly, not to disturb the
sleepers, and waited. I rang loudly, and waited. Through the door came
a gentle, familiar murmur. Then the cracked bell rang out a tocsin that
should have roused the whole palace; still no sound from within save
that rhythmical murmur; we beat and kicked upon the door till hands and
feet were tired; we called, bellowed, screamed, shrieked for a matter of
five minutes, until the terrified Franceline, guilty yet denying sleep,
threw open the door. I was just dropping off into dreamland when I heard
the _portone_ shut heavily. As the stairway belongs exclusively to us, I
sat up and listened. There was a hubbub on the stairs. I heard Ercole’s
voice protesting, calling upon the Trinity first as a whole, then
severally, upon all the saints, last and loudest upon the Madonna, to
witness his innocence. A stern, accusing voice drowned Ercole’s. I threw
on a wrapper, ran to the door, and listened.

“Where are they, then? Make me to see them, those ladies, all festive
with jewels. Did we not ourselves behold them enter this _portone_,
laughing and talking gaily? this _portone_, brute beast, of which one
knows that thou, and thou only, hast the key. Did we not hear, we out in
the street, feminine yells horrible, to make one tremble, and thou
sayest thou heardst nothing? Animal, where are they, then? What have
you done with them, those ladies so bright, so beautiful? Robbed,
murdered, dying, perhaps--possibly dead.”

“By the mass, by Peter and Paul, I was asleep in my bed at ten o’clock.
Ask Maria, ask Lucrezia, ask the _padrone_ of the wine-shop, who turned
me out at that hour. I knew nothing till you came, _illustrissimi_, you
tore me from my bed. What do I know of the ladies? I saw them go at
quarter before eleven with Cesare in a coupé. Is it sensible to ask me?
Ask that fat pig, Cesare. If they are dead, he is responsible.”

“Might it not be well to ring the bell and ask the signore?” said a
third voice, that of the elder _carabiniere_. Explanations, apologies,
thanks, “_e buona notte_!”


February 4, 1897.

The ball at the embassy last night (given by Mr. MacVeagh, the retiring
American Ambassador, for the King and Queen) went off very well. Her
Majesty looked charming and danced the quadrille with great spirit. Some
of the dancers forgot the figures, she put them all straight, and was so
winning, so fascinating that the Americans were enthusiastic about her.

The King, who does not dance, seemed bored. He is first and above all
else a soldier, a man of action. I watched him as he stood pulling his
big mustachios, talking to an ancient ambassadress; by his expression it
was easy to see he would be glad when it was over and time to go home.
He was in uniform as usual, carrying his white-plumed helmet under his
arm. His honest face had that puzzled look it so often wears; no wonder!
Of all the monarchs in the world, his riddles are the hardest to read.
The Queen wore a superb dress of pale blue satin with point lace and her
famous pearls. The King gave her a string of pearls on each anniversary
of their marriage, it is said, till at their silver wedding she
protested she could not bear the weight of another rope. The finest
jewels after the royal pearls were Mrs. Potter Palmer’s. She wore the
crown of pearls and diamonds I remember her wearing at her reception for
the Spanish Infanta Eulalia at the time of the World’s Fair at Chicago.
The supper was served in an immense room, the handsomest in the
apartment, which occupies the _piano nobile_ of the Palazzo Ludovisi.
Nothing could be better arranged for entertaining in the grand manner
than the present American Embassy. You enter an enormous _anticamera_,
where the servants take your wraps, pass on through a second
waiting-room into a long corridor which runs the whole length of the
palace. The state rooms all lead from this corridor; they have
communicating doors, so that standing in the doorway of the supper-room
one looks through the two drawing-rooms to the ballroom, where on a
stage the musicians are seated. The diplomats all wore court dress. A
ball where the men as well as the women are splendid is naturally far
more brilliant than one of our balls, where the girls monopolize the
finery. The most striking figure there was the military attaché of the
Russian embassy. He wore the dress of a Cossack colonel, cartridge belt,
jewelled weapons, and all, and--as if to heighten the warlike look--a
black patch over one eye. The tender-hearted regarded him with sympathy:
“poor man, in what dreadful encounter with savage tribesmen had he lost
the missing eye?” Worse luck yet! It was knocked out by the point of an
umbrella carelessly handled by a lady in getting out of the travelling
compartment of a train!

I never saw such a crowd around a supper-table. Refreshments at most
entertainments here are simpler than would be believed at home. In this
the Italians are more civilized than the English or ourselves. The
supper last night was of the generous American order. The Romans seemed
to enjoy it and did not limit themselves to biscuits and lemonade. The
army officers in especial took kindly to the good things.

To-day I looked into St. Agostino and saw the beautiful miracle-working
Madonna. She is a lovely marble woman with a less lovely _bambino_. The
mother is literally covered with gems; she has strings upon strings of
pearls about her neck, her fingers are laden to the very tips with
rings; the child is hung with scores of watches. Both heads are deformed
with ugly crowns. The Madonna is by Jacopo Sansovino, a Florentine
sculptor of the fifteenth century. She is much adored and quite
adorable. She is very rich, has a good income of her own from the
various legacies she has received. On the pedestal below her silver
foot--the marble one was long since kissed out of existence--an
inscription states that “on the assurance of Pius the Seventh an
indulgence of two hundred days will be granted to whoever shall devoutly
touch the foot of this holy image and recite an _ave_.”

[Illustration: _The Madonna of St. Agostino_

From a photograph]

I also went to see the _appartamento Borgia_, newly opened at the
Vatican. It contains one of the most splendid pieces of decoration I
have ever seen--three rooms painted by Pinturicchio; they have been
closed for twenty years, having been used as libraries; the walls were
covered with books. The Pope has gone to great expense to put them in
order, and has thrown them open to the public. Artistic Rome has gone
mad about them. They surpass everything in the way of decoration here
save the Sistine Chapel and the Stanze of Raphael.


June 29 and 30, 1897.

To-night the Feast of St. Peter is to be celebrated by a dinner-party on
the terrace. That old statue of Jupiter in the great church across the
way,--now held venerable as a portrait of St. Peter--is dressed in his
best vestments, his finest tiara, and wears his most sumptuous sapphire
ring on his stiff forefinger. As the whole Borgo is under the protection
of St. Peter, I always make a little feast on his day. There are many
sermons preached about him; I heard an excellent one in a neighboring
church. The object of the saints’ days is to keep alive the memory of
noble lives. Just as on Washington’s Birthday the old stories of Valley
Forge and Yorktown are recited year after year, so the story of Peter is
told on the 29th of June every year. I was surprised to hear Signor
Rodolfo Lanciani say he thought it possible St. Peter had actually been
in Rome, and that in his opinion the great church may cover his last
resting-place as well as perpetuate his name.

Ripe figs are supposed to be eaten first on St. John’s Day, the 24th of
June. Tradition says that the first plate of figs was always presented
on that day to Pope Pius the Ninth. Either figs are late this season or
Pompilia has been slow about finding them, for the purple figs which
were served with cold boiled ham for our luncheon to-day are the first
we have seen this season. Naturally there was no second course to such a
superlative first. The terrace dinner was a great success. The table was
set under the _pergola_ covered thick with the second crop of roses. We
hung _lucerne_ (brass lamps for burning olive oil) from the yellow canes
of the crossed bamboos and lighted the farther end of our airy
dining-room with colored lanterns. Among the guests were Monsignor
William O’Connell, director of the American College, a genial
Irish-American priest, and Dr. William Bull, physician to the American
Embassy, guide, philosopher, and friend of all wandering Americans. He
is beloved of artists, a collector of antiquities, a genial, not a
melancholy Dane, a wise physician, and one of the most picturesque
figures in our Roman world. The sun was still staining the sky when we
sat down. By the time old Nena brought the ices from the _trattoria_
below, the full yellow moon came up over the Sabine Hills, flooding
every corner with its yellow light. Below, in the baker’s shop, the
nightingale sang to the roses. Our best rose, _il Capitano Christi_, is
a very large, flat, pink rose, growing on a stiff stalk with long,
fierce thorns. It opens wide as a saucer, and is of the most rapturous,
tender color. It is grafted on an excellent commonplace red rose-tree, a
generous and prolific bloomer, which yields a brave harvest, the first
to blossom, the last to wither, always to be depended on if I want roses
in a hurry. The Captain gives a rare rose, never more than one at a
time, but I know that it is to the Captain’s rose that the baker’s
nightingale sings.



IV

A PRESENTATION TO LEO THE THIRTEENTH


PALAZZO RUSTICUCCI, November 20, 1897.

Our mother, comfortably established in the guest-room under the
protection of Apollo, already feels at home in Rome. In the morning she
sits on the terrace in a grand hooded chair we had made for her in that
haunt of basket-makers, the Vicolo dei Canestrari--the little street of
the basket-makers--are not the names of the Roman streets delightful?
After luncheon we drive on the Pincio when the band plays, in the Doria
or the Borghese Villa, or, best of all, on the Campagna. She shall have
enough out-of-doors this winter! For a hundred years English doctors
have sent elderly people to Rome, “where the effect of the air on the
heart’s action tends to increase longevity.” The old here are uncommonly
frisky. Mr. Greenough, an octogenarian, trots up our stairs as if he
were twenty. On stormy days the mother drives to

[Illustration: _The Pincian Gate and Wall of Rome_

From a photograph]

St. Peter’s and takes her walk inside the church. It is so vast that it
has a climate of its own, varying only ten degrees in temperature during
the entire year, consequently it is warm in winter and cool in summer.
In August I put on a wrap when I go over there; in January I take off my
furs! Socially as well as climatically Rome is an ideal place for the
old; that horrid topic, _age_, is properly ignored. I have seen a
gentleman of seventy-nine waltzing at a ball with a partner not twenty
years his junior. The example of the Pope--always an old man--may have
something to do with this admirable energy of the elders; the age of the
civilization probably counts for more.

Do not believe what the papers say about the Pope; he is likely to live
for years. Eighty-seven is the prime of life for pontiffs. Leo the
Thirteenth serves the Italian newspaper men and foreign correspondents
as the sea-serpent serves ours. When news is scarce, when the rich and
great are veiled from the public eye by reason of summer seclusion or
wandering, that blessed serpent, sailing into the sea of ink, saves the
situation. The reports of _Sua Santita’s_ failing health used to rouse
my sympathy; now they only make me angry, because they hurt his poor
old feelings. He once said, on reading an account of his approaching end
in a Roman paper, “Why do they wish me dead?”

Was not that pathetic? In spite of being White in my politics, I feel a
personal sympathy for the Pope. We are such near neighbors, I see the
windows of his private apartment from the terrace; we both look down
upon the piazza of St. Peter’s; we have the same surgeon (Dr. Bull took
me to consult Mazzoni about a bicycle ankle); I know several of his
chamberlains; we both are left behind when the hot weather drives the
_beau monde_ out of Rome for the summer: you see, we have much in
common; his not knowing it does not alter my feelings; it’s one-sided,
like a book friendship. I was in Rome when Pius the Ninth died and Leo
the Thirteenth was elected. I remember how handsome Pius looked lying in
state, with his foot in such a position that his red slipper (it had a
cross embroidered on it) could be kissed. I do not remember much about
the coronation ceremonies, but I have a very clear impression of my
presentation to Pope Leo in the winter of 1878, very soon after he
became Pope. The mother refused to go: those stubborn Protestant knees
would not bow down to Baal or to the Pope. Our generation takes things
differently, not half so picturesquely. We say, “An old man’s blessing
is a good thing to have, whether he be a lama from Thibet or a priest of
Rome.” Two other young American girls went with me; there were, all
told, perhaps twenty people presented that day. We wore black, with such
diamonds as our mothers would lend us, and Spanish mantillas. A few
minutes before the Pope entered a chamberlain made us all kneel; then
Leo, dressed in white, with a heavy gold chain around his neck, from
which hung a cross set with emeralds, made the tour of the room,
stopping to speak to every one. The chamberlain mentioned our names and
nationality, the Pope asked each of us to what church we belonged. My
place was next an emotional convert; he hardly noticed her, merely
giving her his blessing and passing on. He asked me where I came from,
said Boston was a famous city, inquired how long I had been in Rome,
wished me a pleasant journey, and a safe return to my people. He spoke
longest to a little Jewess who was at my left--on the principle, I
suppose, that we already have our friends, and should make friends of
our enemies. We kissed his ring--a large amethyst--as we had been told,
_not_ his hand. I am not sure whether it was Pope Leo or Pius the Ninth
who always asked strangers how long they had been in Rome. When the
answer indicated that the stay had been for days or weeks, he said in
parting “_Addio_,” when it had been months, “_Arriverderci_”--au
revoir,--“because if you have been here only a short time, you may not
return, but if you have been here for months, you are sure to come
back.” I have heard it told of both; it very likely dates back to
Gregory the Sixteenth. Stories are immortal in Rome, those from the
“Gesta Romanorum” being still current.


December 27, 1897.

Oh! the terrace, the terrace! with the white hyacinths ablow, little
starry bunches of narcissi, pansies, a rare rose, and the yellow gourds
of the passion-flower hanging down through the crossed bamboos of the
trellis. Our mother feels the fascination of the terrace life more and
more. Yesterday she asked me to buy her a small watering-can,--ours are
huge,--and to-day she helped water the plants and weed the tulips. I put
the pots up on the wall for her where she could easily reach them, and
she pulled out the tender weeds with her beautiful hands. Bulbs do not
thrive so well the second year as the first. The delirium of the
hyacinths is gone with that precious burst of youth. This season they
bloom soberly; no more passionate, lavish giving, they have left that
behind,--like some other flowers,--but they do their little, middle-aged
best. We had a merry Christmas. The weather was perfect: a gift, the
first and best of all, of a clear, bracing morning. “Give me health and
a day, and I will make the pomp of emperors ridiculous.” No emperor
being at hand, we went to St. Peter’s, walked up and down the side
aisles, had just a whiff of the high mass, Cardinal Rampolla
officiating, the Pope’s angel singing the soprano part phenomenally. His
voice has a peculiar soaring quality; it seems to scale the heights and
knock at the door of heaven.

We met Boston society, as we always do when we go to St. Peter’s,--an
old friend and his bride, and a pair of pleasant Beacon Street
neighbors.


February 11, 1898.

J. says “Rome is always festering (_festa_-ing).” Between saints’ days,
national holidays, and our own private celebrations there _are_ rather
too many festivities. It is a pretty custom they have here of
celebrating the feast of the patron saint rather than the birthday. The
embarrassing question, “How old?” is thus avoided. It is also
convenient. On the feast of Santa Lucia I am reminded to go and see
Lucia di Villegas and carry her a bunch of flowers. I am sure to find
Villino Villegas swept and garnished, the signora dressed in her best,
all smiles and sweetness. She has been to mass and is ready to receive
friends and relatives. Anglo-Saxons are fond of saying that the home
does not exist in Latin lands. This is not quite true. In Italy the home
is less a social centre and more a family stronghold than with us. An
outsider is admitted to it only as the last test of friendship. It has
still a touch of oriental feeling. It is the place where the women
belong, where they mostly stay; it is jealously guarded from
strangers--from strange men especially; “_chi va piano va sano!_”

Wednesday, the anniversary of our wedding-day, was one long frolic. At
nine we went up to our play-house and played with our flower dolls. In
the evening we had a little dinner of intimates. Filomena arranged a
large horseshoe in double violets and pansies between J.’s place and
mine at table “for good luck.” In the morning she brought me a basket of
fresh eggs from her people in the country and wished me “_cento di
questi giorni_ (a hundred of these days).” Even Pompilia, the cook, who
has been rather cross lately, gave us two paper fans. In the kitchen a
_fiascone_ of wine and a huge _panettone_ were on tap; everybody who
passed that way drank our health. After dinner we sat over the fire till
past midnight telling ghost stories or listening to J. C. (the Muse of
Via Gregoriana), who played divinely to us. It was a good day.

We do not have much music worth hearing in Rome, so we doubly enjoy what
the gods send us. Sgambati’s concert last week began with that adorable
overture to Fingal’s Cave. Cotogni, an old singer (sixty-eight is old to
sing in concerts), sang well with the remains of a glorious bass voice
which he handled like a delicate soprano. He is just back from St.
Petersburg, where he has been the director of the Conservatory for
twenty years. I heard him again at Mme. Patti’s concert. They sang “_la
ci darem la mano_” from “Don Giovanni,” which they had last sung
together in their early youth. The gallant manner in which the old
singer handed out the _diva_ was very nice. Mme. Patti is here on a
wedding-tour with her husband,--Baron Cedarstrom,--a young Swede
twenty-eight years old, who used to take care of her throat. She wore a
pretty lilac dress which smelt of Paris and the Rue de la Paix.

Signor Sgambati is responsible for the best music we have. He is a true
musician, a delightful composer, and the most enchanting person. Of
course you know his compositions; the Boston Orchestra lately gave his
symphony. Some time ago he was on the point of leaving Rome for London,
where they were on their knees for him to come: the musical people and
critics were waiting with open arms to receive him. He went to the
station, weighed his luggage, bought his ticket, was just about to get
on the train, when he realized that he was leaving Rome! That was more
than he had bargained for! It was one thing to go to London, another to
leave Rome! He calmly returned to his quiet house and his piano in the
Via della Croce, and has remained there ever since, the friend of the
Queen, of all true artists, of every starving musical genius brought to
his notice. That such a man should endure the drudgery of giving music
lessons is a fearful waste of fine material; the musical world should
make him independent, as it made Wagner.

If you only stay long enough in Rome you meet everybody you ever heard
of: all the world comes here sooner or later. The best thing about the
social life is its cosmopolitan quality. Among the people we see most
are a Greek woman (I had almost written goddess), a Dutchman, a Swede, a
Dane, a Turk, an Irish priest, and a French Protestant pastor. American
Protestant houses are no-man’s-land, neutral ground: we have visitors of
every faith and of all parties. One Sunday afternoon Mrs. Agassiz, the
President of Radcliffe College, Mr. Peabody, the Master of Croton
School, and Mgr. O’Connell, the Director of the American College for
young priests in Rome, chanced to meet at tea in my _salon_. There are a
dozen different cliques, all more or less linked together--artistic,
musical, political, sporting. The people who form “smart” society seem
to me more cultivated than is usual with that class.

We have lately returned from an old-furniture hunt at Viterbo. We found
no furniture, but the most picturesque Roman Gothic town I have seen.
When I first knew Italy Viterbo had a bad name for brigands. The
railroad has been open only four years; I hear no more of brigands,
though I suspect several of my Viterbo acquaintances once belonged to
the band. The place is not yet tourist stricken. We slept in a grim
caravansary and went to a villanous _trattoria_ for our meals, where we
were poisoned by the food. A twenty-four-hour fast brought us again into
condition. Viterbo is a gray fourteenth-century town with massive stone
walls and turrets. It has many handsome buildings, some fair pictures,
good Etruscan and Roman antiquities, but the most admirable thing about
it is its wonderful completeness. Everything hangs together
architecturally, the parts are subservient to the whole, the
result--grace, harmony, repose! Shall we ever learn the trick?

From Viterbo we drove to the estate of the Duke of Lante, one of the
most famous Italian villas. The present duke has an American mother and
wife. We had a letter of introduction from a mutual friend. All the
grown-up people of the family were absent. We were received by two tiny
fairies in pink calico, who took us each by a hand and led us through
the garden to see the oaks, the famous bronze fountain, and the
interesting house. I never have had so lovely an escort or a kinder
welcome than the little ladies of the Villa Lante gave us.


February 26, 1898.

You will like to hear about a day of pure delight. I left home, duty,
and family, and went off with Donna Primavera for an outing at Ostia. We
started at ten in the morning, returned at six at night. I had been
there before on my bicycle--it is a capital road--but on that occasion I
saw nothing except the view. Ostia is an ancient Roman commercial town
founded by Ancus Martius, the fourth of the Roman kings; that takes it
back to the sixth century B.C. The ruins of Ostia are on the banks of
the Tiber. From here the fleets of merchant galleys sailed away to
Greece and Africa. I felt that I was penetrating into the business life
of the Romans as never before. Of course, I knew vaguely that there was
a great commerce underlying the whole vast scheme, supporting the army
and the art, but I was not prepared for the illumination I received in
wandering through the old warehouses, where we found rows of vast
amphoræ (earthenware jars) which had contained wine, oil, and grain.
Trade was as important in the time of Augustus as in the days of
McKinley. The fleets that sailed into the harbor of Ostia brought
nothing more precious than the marbles from Paros and Africa. It is said
of Augustus that he found Rome a city of brick and left it a city of
marble. The threshold of the temple at Ostia is a single slab of
_africano_ sixteen feet long, delicious in color--rose, gray, and black
blended in the most adorable mottlings. Signor Lanciani tells me they
have lately discovered a large cargo of precious marbles at or near
Ostia which has been lying waiting perhaps two thousand years for the
hand of the builder. I should like to have a piece of it. In Rome one
learns to appreciate marbles. I point out the different varieties to all
the friends from home whom I pilot about the city (there are plenty of
them), and it is a rare thing to find one who knows the difference
between _cipollino_ and _serpentino_. Tell that to the Kindergartnerins!


April 16, 1898.

Waked up at dawn this morning by the rattling of cabs and carriages and
the footsteps of sixty thousand people going to St. Peter’s to
celebrate the twenty-first anniversary of the Pope’s coronation. I had
not meant to go,--these functions are such an old story to me,--but I
could not resist the magnetism of the crowd. The Borgo and the Piazza
were black with people. Before the obelisk a double cordon of troops
stretched across the whole Piazza--government troops, you understand;
the government keeps order when the Pope goes to St. Peter’s and is
responsible for his safety. The Borgo is perhaps the safest place to
live in that exists; I have never heard of any other so carefully
guarded. Inside the Vatican the Papal troops keep order. At a certain
point behind the church two sentinels pace their beat, the spot where
they meet marking the line of the exterritorial limits of the Vatican.
One sentinel wears the King’s uniform, the other wears the Pope’s; they
appear to be on friendly terms.

My ticket admitted me to the bronze door. The crush going up the steps
was terrific; once inside the church, all was well. I never have known a
panic or a stampede in all the many crowds I have seen gather in the
great church across the way. In the days of the Cæsars the Romans
learned how to behave at a great pageant; they have never forgotten the
lesson. The Roman crowd is the best behaved and most good-natured in the
world. Of course, there are always people who feel the effects of being
in such a crush; I saw three women faint and one man “tumble in a fit”
to-day. They were immediately carried to one of the hospitals fitted up
in various parts of the building on all such occasions. It happened once
that a child was born in St. Peter’s while a great function was going
on--I think it was a beatification.

An aisle was kept open, by means of movable benches, leading from the
Chapel of the Sacrament, which communicates with the Vatican, to the
papal throne, placed to-day for the first time since 1870 under the
chair of St. Peter at the end of the basilica. The walls were hung with
miles of crimson velvet and brocade. I like the church better plain, but
it made a “soomptuous melée” of color. I saw the Crown Princess of
Sweden and the Countess of Trani, sister of the Empress of Austria, in
the tribune reserved for royal guests. The costumes of the papal court
are simply enchanting. The red and yellow uniform of the Swiss Guard
never palls; it was designed by Michael Angelo, who had some taste. The
chamberlains, some of whom we know, looked so handsome in black velvet
doublets and knee breeches, with stiff white ruffs and thick gold chains
of office that it was hard to recognize them. The ambassadors wore their
best togs, the noble ladies (they are obliged to go in black) all their
jewels. The plebs in their way were quite as decorative as the
patricians,--peasants with goatskin trousers and _cioce_, monks and nuns
of every order, flocks of students from the theological seminaries in
the dress Dante wore. The German students in vermilion habits--the
scarlet tanagers of the Roman landscape--are the finest. The Pope was
due at ten; at a quarter before eleven the cardinals began to arrive.
Their dress is admirable; it never looks so well as when they are
marching down the aisle at St. Peter’s. At eleven the Pope appeared in
the gestatorial chair carried by eight lackeys in crimson brocade:
Michael Angelo, they say, designed this livery too. The tall white
feather fans carried in the procession reminded me of a bas-relief on
the walls of the ruins at Karnak in Egypt representing the Pharaoh going
in triumph to the temple. Pharaoh’s chair was not unlike the _sedia
gestatoria_, the feather fans seem identical, the triple crown of the
Pope is very like the crown of Upper and Lower Egypt worn by Rameses. In
the midst of all this swirl of color imagine Leo’s alabaster face with
the eyes of brown fire. When he rose feebly to give the benediction his
hands looked transparent. There was even more shouting “_Viva il papa
ré!_” than usual. The Pope is as exquisitely _soigné_ as a young belle;
his valet, Pio Centra,--one of whose duties is to taste everything his
master eats or drinks,--certainly knows his business. Centra is a great
personage and is kowtowed to by the people about the Vatican.

The Pope safely on his throne, I did not care to wait for the service
and watched my chance of getting out. I edged my way to the vicinity of
one of the exits and waited. I soon saw a gigantic German student--he
must have been six feet six inches tall--who was evidently of the same
mind about going. I managed to slip in behind him and follow in his
wake. When we were close to the door the press was so great that I
really was frightened; in another moment I should have been separated
from my giant. In desperation I seized the streamers of red broadcloth
that hung from his shoulders. He looked behind him, saw a woman,
fancied the de’il was after him, and fled for his life, cleaving the
solid wall of people with his mighty elbows. The faster he ran the
tighter I held on, till at last he brought us both through that awful
pressure--I thought it would break my ribs--down the steps and out into
the piazza, where I let him go. I am not sure which of us was the most
frightened!

One of the _Guardia Nobile_ (the Pope’s Noble Guard) told me that in the
year 1889 he was on duty in the Pope’s antechamber the night after the
dedication of the statue of Giordano Bruno--a renegade Dominican or a
great reformer, according to your politics--on the very spot where in
1600 Bruno was burned at the stake for heresy. The Pope was much
offended, he felt that the Church had been insulted; there was even talk
of removing the seat of the papacy from Rome. That plan, if it ever was
seriously considered, was soon given up. The whole matter had agitated
the Pope tremendously, and the people about him felt anxious about his
health. When the usual hour passed for his light to be put out they grew
more and more nervous. Eleven, twelve, one o’clock, still that thin
line of light under the door. Finally they knocked. No answer. They
gently opened the door and saw the old man kneeling weeping at his
_priedieu_. Our friend, a man of the world, had been deeply moved by
that glimpse through the open door. As for me, “’t is as if I’d seen it
all.”

Like Pius the Ninth, Leo began by trying for a liberal policy. The power
behind the throne--the faction of _intransigentes_--was too strong for
him. When he was elected Pope he wished to give his benediction to the
vast throng of people in the Piazza from the window over the door of St.
Peter’s, as his predecessors had done. This was opposed, but a rumor
spread through the city that the new Pope stood firmly to his intention.
The Piazza was crammed with waiting people; at the Quirinal the royal
carriage stood ready to bring the Queen to the Piazza to receive the
blessing. After a long delay those who watched with glasses saw a small
white figure hurrying down the passage which leads to the window. The
Pope was coming! Suddenly the white figure hesitated, paused, turned
back, retreated. The way had been barricaded with benches!

Sovereign Pontiff, indeed! This was forcible coercion!

When you stop to think about it, nobody is quite free. The freest man I
know is Scipione, the travelling knife-grinder. He carries his tools on
his back, the open street is his shop, the people he meets his
customers. As I sat at work this morning I heard the welcome sound of
his cracked bell. My knife being duller than even I can endure, I hailed
him from the window. He came slowly up the long stair to the landing
outside the old green door, and bade me a civil good morning.

“We have not seen you for a long time, I was afraid I should have to buy
a new knife,” I said.

Scipione let a few drops of water trickle from the tap of the small can
fixed above his wheel, ran his finger along the edge of my penknife,
held the blade to the emery wheel, and began to work the treadle with
his foot.

“It is quite true, I have not passed this way lately. You did well,
however, to wait for me. Another might have ruined this really desirable
knife, whose beauty and value the first comer might not realize.” Under
my admiring eyes, the sparks began to fly from the wheel--who does not
work better when watched by admiring eyes?

“That is a good trade of yours, is it not, Scipione?” I said.

“_E un arte civile, Signora. Non c’è ‘boss’; quando si vuole lavorare,
si lavora, quando si vuole reposare, si riposa_ (It is a civil art;
there is no ‘boss’; when one feels like working, one works, when one
wishes to rest, one rests).”

“You have not told me what kept you so long away.”

“My grandmother has been ill, _Poverella_, there is nobody but myself to
look after her.”

Scipione is not so free as I had supposed!

“Where does the _nonna_ live?”

“At Carpineto, the _paese_ of _Il Gran Ciociaro_ over there,” he nodded
towards the Vatican. “_Nonna_ remembers his Holiness when he was a lad.
She was among those pilgrims from his native town to whom he gave an
audience the other day. What do you think he said to her? He asked her
about the big chestnut tree under whose shade he used to walk when he
was studying his lessons. Do you suppose that pleased her? There is no
tree in the world that receives such attention as the old chestnut tree
of _Il Gran Ciociaro_ at Carpineto.”



V

IN THE ABRUZZI MOUNTAINS


ROCCARASO, September 8, 1898.

We left Rome, the heat already somewhat abating, on the 2d of September.
Though we had been so anxious to get away, it took an effort of will at
the last. Action of any kind was abhorrent, the _dolce far niente_ had
us in thrall. We finally got off at nine o’clock one morning, and
arrived here at seven the same evening, having changed cars at Solmona,
the home of Ovid, where we had an hour and a half to see the sights.
Solmona is a good-sized town with paved streets, interesting churches,
several inns,--at any of which one might risk putting up,--and a
market-place, Piazza Ovidio, where we bought a basket of pears and a
flask of wine: one or the other made us very ill; it is much safer to
bring along provisions for such a journey. The train next passed through
a wide valley, one vast orchard, red with apples “ripe and ready to
drop”; then the engine began to tug, tug, up into the mountains. The
road is a strategical railway, built not to meet any demand of traffic
or travel, but for the transportation of troops.

“Roccaraso is the highest railroad station in Europe,” said the proud
person in uniform who took our tickets. Government owns and operates all
railroads; the employés are gold-laced, red-tape government officials;
this one controls telegraph, mail, express--all intercourse with the
outer world. We therefore forbore to mention Brenner, the station in the
Alps between the Austrian Tyrol and Italy, which I believed to be even
higher.

The town of Roccaraso is above the station, a _castello_ perched aloft
on a spur of one of the upper Abruzzi. Below us is a wide, flat valley,
all around us are crowding blue mountains, head rising above head, like
inquisitive giants peeping over one another’s shoulders. The air is like
rarefied electricity; the water has been tested and guaranteed
absolutely pure--you know bad water is the danger of these remote,
primitive villages. Our friend, the Marchesa di V., asked the engineer
who laid out the railroad (it has been open only a few months) to find
her a healthy place for the summer. He recommended this

[Illustration: _Roccaraso_

From a pencil drawing]

[Illustration]

unknown mountain fastness. Here she retired with her _bambini_ early in
June. Having made herself comfortable, she prepared to make us so: hired
a pleasant apartment for us,--it belongs to the widow of the ex-mayor,
lately defunct,--ordered the landlady to give it three coats of
whitewash, engaged Elena, a stout wench, to scrub, do the heavy work,
and fetch water from the village fountain, and bade us “come on.” We
came, bringing our guardian angel Vittoria, the tall seamstress, to cook
and take care of us. Cornelia, mother of the Gracchi, must have looked
like our Vittoria--calm, gentle, with rare sweetness and remarkable
beauty. We sent up from Rome oil, wine, vinegar, and groceries enough to
last out our stay. The Marchesa has a loaf of bread come by mail every
day from Rome for the babes; she is a woman of resource, she does the
impossible, the only thing worth doing! Elena’s mother makes bread for
us; it is coarse and rather hard, but it suits us well enough. This is
the most primitive Italy we have yet seen. Neither butter, meat, nor
Parmesan cheese (quite as important) can be had here. The wine is
detestable, _vino cotto_ (cooked wine), brought up in goatskins from the
valley below on muleback. We are above the grape and olive belt; our
meat comes twice a week from Castel di Sangro, four miles off; our
butter, every other day, from Pesco Costanzi, two miles away, via the
girls express established by the Marchesa.

Our apartment (it costs fifteen dollars a month) is over the village
school; it has its own separate entrance, through a grim paved
court-yard, where Vittoria keeps the turkey or chicken she is fattening
for us. You ring a bell; whoever is within pulls a string which lifts
the latch. You go up two flights of massive stone stairs to reach the
living part, where we have a decent bedroom, a fair, formal salon,
dining-room, and a kitchen--such a kitchen! The ex-mayor’s family must
have lived in this room, except on high days and holidays, when they
perhaps sat upon the deceitful parlor chairs and sofas--which had all
been pasted together for our benefit and broke down at the first trial.
The kitchen is an immense, smoke-browned room, with a big fireplace at
one end, where all the cooking is done. Copper pots and kettles hang
from the iron crane, a spit stands on the hearth, strings of red peppers
swing from the rafters. There are no bellows; to coax the blaze, Elena,
the vestal, kneels and blows through a long iron tube, her breath coming
out through the mouth of the snake’s head at the end. It is cold
to-night; the kitchen is the only warm place; I am writing close to
Elena’s rousing brushwood fire. Outside there is a howling wind, inside
a leg of mutton revolves slowly on the spit. Every moment I expect to
see the King of the Golden River blow down the chimney and beg for a
slice of that savory roast.


ROCCARASO, September 16, 1898.

We are living in the pastoral age! Each family in Roccaraso supplies its
own needs, asks little of its neighbors and of the outside
world--nothing but salt, wine, and oil. Life is set to the tune of “The
Poor Little Swallow.” We wake in the early morning to “_povera
rondinella, O povera rondinella!_” sung by the women and girls trudging
up from the valley with bundles of fagots on their heads for the winter
woodpiles. They are busy preparing for the long, cold season, which
falls early hereabouts. Acorns for the pigs, fodder for the cows, goats,
and sheep, dried peas, beans, and corn for the humans must all be
carefully stored away. For several days we have watched the women
winnowing the chaff from the wheat. At sunrise yesterday half a dozen
girls started, each with a heavy sack of grain on her head, to walk to
the nearest grist-mill, seven miles away. At sunset they came back
carrying the precious flour, which must be preserved with extreme care.
Good or bad, it is their mainstay through the severe winter; if it
should mildew, they would eat it all the same, with the fear of the
dreadful _pellagra_ in their hearts.

The government doctor, who goes periodically about the country to visit
the sick and is an intelligent man,--standing rather too much on his
dignity for comfortable intercourse, but a perfect mine of
information,--says that _pellagra_, endemic in some parts of Italy,
comes from the poor food the people eat, chiefly from the mildewed
flour. It is a skin disease, which produces a painful red eruption, and
all sorts of nervous and other horrors. From the autumn when the few
green vegetables they raise are consumed till they are again ripe the
following summer, the people live on _polenta_, made of cornmeal,
macaroni, potatoes, dried peas, and sheep’s-milk cheese. In case of
illness a little meat to make broth is procured, otherwise the diet is
vegetarian, except on Christmas and Easter, when several families club
together to make a feast, and one peasant kills a sheep or a goat,
having agreed with his neighbors which part of the animal shall be
allotted to each.

We have made friends with our opposite neighbor the belle of Roccaraso,
a modern Penelope. We found her at her loom as usual, in a tiny stone
cottage, the floor plain, trodden earth, the walls roughly plastered
inside. She is even prettier seen close at hand than through the window;
she wears the Roccaraso dress--you know each village has its own special
costume. This is plainer than many of them, but good and appropriate.
Over her head she wears a square of linen edged with lace, folded to
cover the neck and lower part of the face (older women are particular to
hide the mouth), a full skirt of dark homespun, a black apron, and a
bright jacket, showing a colored kerchief and a full white shirt.

“Will the gentry do me the favor of entering?” she gently invited us.

“We would not interrupt your work.”

“Enter, enter!”

“If you will go on with your weaving.”

She sat down at her loom before a web of rough linsey-woolsey and shot
the shuttle threaded with red linen across the woof of black wool. We
ordered a dress pattern of the same stuff as that she was weaving, and
some heavy white flannel striped with corn-flower blue, delicious in
color and fabric.

“The signori are North Americans, yes? They come from Pittsbourgo?”
Penelope began.

“North Americans, yes, not from Pittsburg.” She was disappointed, but a
visiting-card partly consoled her.

“How do you call yourself?” J. asked.

“Mariuccia, _per servirla_.”

“This yarn you weave with, Mariuccia, tell us where it came from?” She
seemed astonished at the question, took a distaff from a nail, and
showed us how she used it.

“_’Gnor_, I made the yarn with this rocca; so, how else?”

“And the wool, where did you get that?”

“_’Gnor_, from my own sheep.”

“Can you spin flax also, and weave linen?”

“_Altro!_ “She lifted the cover of an old marriage-chest--it smelt of
lavender.

“Behold my _corredo_.” The chest held the linen she had woven for her
marriage,--towels, sheets, table-cloths, and napkins, enough to last her
lifetime.

“See what Andrea sent me “for _Natale_” (Christmas). She took out of the
_cassone_ a pair of high-heeled, pointed-toed boots--they would have
crippled her in a week--and a pair of American storm rubbers.

“The accursed ones of the Dogana forced me to pay three francs duty upon
these original shoes; in confidence between us two, I cannot wear them.”

“The _cioce_ are better for you. Where did these come from?”

“My husband, he sent them to me.”

“From Pittsbourgo?”

“_’Gnor, si_, he is a cutter of stone at that place.”

“Why are you not with him?”

“’_Gnor_, the great fear of the sea. Besides, Andrea is a good husband,
he sends me money every month from Pittsbourgo.”

There you have the secret of Mariuccia’s superiority: Andrea is a good
husband and sends her money from Pittsburg, therefore she alone of all
the women is exempt from work in the fields. She is personally neat and
keeps her two rooms clean. Her cousin, a slatternly creature, living
next door, and evidently the beauty’s guardian,--asked us into her
house. In spite of our curiosity to see interiors we quailed at the
threshold of that hovel inhabited by the village _naturale_ (simpleton),
who is brother to Mariuccia’s cousin, a large turkey gobbler, and
several hens.

As we took leave, Mariuccia shyly pulled my sleeve. “When the signori
return to America they will take a _passeggiata_ one day to Pittsbourgo
to see my Andrea, yes?” she whispered.

“_Figlia mia_, from our _paese_ it would take twelve hours’ travelling,
even by the railroad, to reach Pittsbourgo.” Mariuccia smiled
incredulously, she did not believe us but was too polite to say so.

J. says that when Mariuccia goes to mass she carries the American shoes
on her head (I think when he met her she _must_ have been taking them to
show to some friend) and wears _cioce_ on her feet. To fit the _cioce_
to the foot of the wearer, a square of cowhide, with the hair still on,
is soaked in water till it becomes soft and

[Illustration: _Marta, a Vestal of the Abruzzi_

From a pencil drawing in the Collection of Mrs. Whitman] pliable; a
hole is then made in each of the four corners of the hide; the foot is
placed on the damp leather, leathern thongs are passed through the holes
and wound round and round the leg and tied at the knee, so that the
_ciociari_, as the wearers of the _cioce_ are called, go cross-gartered
like Malvolio. When the cowhide is dry it has taken the shape of the
foot, and this simplest of all footgear is ready to wear.

The flat pad worn on the head to support the water-jar is Mariuccia’s
pocket. It is the obvious place to carry things. When there is no
heavier burden of wood or water, her knitting or door key takes its
place. I sent Elena with a packet to the Marchesa to-day--of course, she
put it on her head. As it contained nothing but chiffon, the wind sent
it whirling, and Elena said “_Sfortunata!_” Her little sister, Tina,
three years old, balances a block of wood on her head and toddles
alongside when Elena goes to draw water at the fountain; she is learning
the art of burthen-bearing. Marta, who is six,--the age at which the
vestals were admitted to the novitiate,--has sole charge of the
household fire. When her mother and grandmother toil up from the valley
with their mighty loads of fagots, Marta trots gallantly beside them
under her small load of brush for kindling.

“Why does not your brother, Francesco, help to carry up wood?” we asked
Marta. She shook her firm little head:

“_’Gnor, questo non èlavoro da uomo_ (That is not man’s work).”
Francesco is eight; his hair is a golden fleece, his cheeks are red
apples.

I notice that no man carries weights on his head; if by a rare chance he
has a load to carry, he takes it on his back. We asked the doctor if the
splendid port of the women came from the caryatid act. He said it was
possible, but that the price was high. “So many of the poor creatures
die of consumption. Only the strongest resist.” Here is the survival of
the fittest with a vengeance!

We are good friends with the _sindaco_ of Roccaraso, a social soul
pleased with an opportunity of enlightening the stranger. His village
has a population of seventeen hundred, mostly old men, women, and
children. Four hundred of the young men are in “Pittsbourgo,” most of
them, like Andrea, stone-masons. Others are stable-strappers at Rome or
Naples. The only able-bodied men we have seen at work are the barber
and the blacksmith. The women do practically all the work of the
community; they dig, plough, sow, and reap. The free, proud bearing this
gives them is wonderful; their beauty surpasses belief. Michael Angelo’s
sibyls spin at every street corner, Raphael’s Madonnas suckle their
children at every doorway. The old women are either strong and upright,
like Elena’s grandmother, or, if they go to pieces and crouch into
withered crones, it is with an admirable sombre dignity. We have only
once been begged from: a very old woman,--she looked like Vedder’s
Cumæan sibyl,--evidently ill and suffering, and distinctly not a
professional beggar, after looking furtively about to see if any one
were in sight, laid hold of the hem of my dress and asked for money. She
touched her hand to her lips before and after receiving it, as they do
in the orient. We fancy we come across other traces of Saracen influence
(they overran this part in the Dark Ages) in three-year-old Tina’s tiny
frock covering her down to the feet, and the way the women hide their
mouths when a stranger passes. In a town to the southward the women wear
veils, which they draw half over their faces when out of doors.


ROCCARASO, September 25, 1898.

Still in this sublime place, keyed up and braced famously by the fine
air. No, the name is not Roccaras_a_, though the mistake is perfectly
natural. Roccaraso is an abbreviation of Rocca del Rasino, rock of the
Rasino, the name of the stream running through the valley. The walled,
fortified town was founded in the fifth century; it has changed very
little since. Late this afternoon we stumbled up the badly paved street,
passed out under the ancient gateway between the two ruined towers, down
the steep, stony way to the sheepfolds at the foot of the hill. The
girls were waiting to milk the flocks driven up from the valleys and
down from the hills by the shepherds and their dogs. From the distance
came the song of the “Little Swallow” played on a pipe by Francesco, who
tends a composite flock of sheep and goats. In the early morning
Francesco passes through the town calling his herd together. At the
sound of his voice four brown sheep file down the steps from the house
opposite, a black goat and five white sheep patter out from Mariuccia’s
spare chamber--the very sheep whose wool is being spun and woven for my
cream-colored flannel. This evening Francesco and his flock reached the
folds before all the others. Mariuccia’s shaggy black goat made an odd
grunting noise as it walked.

“Do all the goats here have such strange voices?” we asked Francesco.

“_’Gnor_, no, this animal was brought up with a litter of pigs; in this
manner he learned their language.”

Elena’s grandfather, Giacomo, the chief of the shepherds, came in next,
leading his blind cosset lamb and knitting as he walked: a tall, stern,
gnarled old man, with white hair and keen eyes, over six feet tall, past
seventy years old. His dress is handsome and substantial: dark blue
homespun knee breeches, jacket and leggings, with silver buttons; a wide
felt hat, and a long black cloak lined with green baize. He has two
dogs, lean and fierce, with wiry white hair, pointed noses, and careworn
faces. They have heavy collars studded with sharp iron spikes.

“Good-evening, Sor’ Giacomo, how goes it?”

“_’Gnor_, badly. Last night the wolves carried off the calf I was
fattening for Christmas.”

“Where were the dogs?”

“They keep watch at the folds; the calf was at my cottage.” He counted
the sheep as they filed through the wicket into the pen. “_Vent’ uno,
venti due_; it is early for wolves, but--one understands it--yesterday I
met the _padre_ of Pesco Costanzi.”

“What has that to do with your calf or the wolves?”

Sor’ Giacomo shrugged his shoulders and went on counting his sheep. We
understood: the priest of Pesco Costanzi has the “_malocchio_” (evil
eye).

“How many are your sheep, Sor’ Giacomo?”

“_Trenta_ (thirty), as you see.”

“It was not always so; formerly there were more?”

“_’Gnor, si._ When I was Francesco’s age my father had five thousand
sheep in his care. In those days we of the Abruzzi raised wool for the
whole kingdom, for the world, if you will. Now it is finished: these
poor, miserable ones scarcely suffice to clothe Roccaraso.”

“Why is this thing so?”

“Why? because of an infamy. Understand, since that _castello_ was
built,--who knows how long ago?--since that time at the season when the
white (snow) comes, when the earth sleeps, we of the Abruzzi have always
had the right to drive our sheep down to the plains of Apulia, there to
graze through the winter. In a moment the thing is changed, the old
right is taken away, we are forbidden to drive down our sheep. But is
the winter changed? are the wolves banished? does the grass grow all the
year in these mountains? I tell you it is finished.”

Giacomo is right, it is finished; he is one of the last _pastori
Abruzzesi_. It is a pity; fourteen centuries of herding sheep have
produced a _pur sang_ I have not often seen. The people hereabouts have
that proud look of race that the Bishereen of Egypt and some of the
American Indians have. “_Moglie e buoi ai paese suoi_ (wives and cattle
from your own country)” is a rule rarely broken. The old shepherd-kings
of the Abruzzi married only hill women, scorning the effete race of the
plain, the vitiated blood of the cities. Giacomo cannot understand a
people particular about the breeding of horses and dogs careless about
the breeding of men. He said to his granddaughter Elena:

“What! you wish to marry that poor, sickly fellow, Paolo? Do you think
more of yourself than of your family? Lucky for you your parents were
not so selfish and imprudent.”

Elena has given up Paolo. She wants to go to Rome with us, to earn a
little money to add to her _dote_, so that she may have pretensions to
make as good a marriage as Mariuccia! The _mariage de convenances_, you
see, is as much the rule among the Italian peasants as among the
aristocrats.

We walked to Pesco Costanzi yesterday through the green valley, where
the hobbled donkeys were grazing, and over a golden pasture infested
with talkative geese. All the able-bodied women were at work in the
glorious fields, threshing oats, shelling corn, drying beans. In the
village, humpbacked, crippled, invalid women sat at the doors of their
dark cottages making lace. The Marchesa first discovered the survival of
an ancient lace industry in this hamlet. In the days of the Medici,
girls from Pesco Costanzi found their way to Florence, on some sort of
scholarship, and brought back the art of lace-making, and the fine
renaissance patterns of that time which the women make to this day. We
like it better than any peasant lace we have seen, and have ordered
several patterns of it, the doctor undertaking to remit the money and
deliver the goods.

On the way back to Roccaraso we passed by the tiny hamlet of Pietro
Anzieri, where we saw a man ploughing a desolate patch of land with the
forked branch of a tree shod with a long iron point, a primitive kind of
plough I remember to have seen represented in an Etruscan wall painting.
We loitered by the way, watching the lone man at work, whereat he
stopped, leaned on his plough, and hailed us with the best Bowery
accent.

“Say, are youse from the Yernited States?”

“Oh, yes, we are North Americans.”

“Of course; I see that. I come from New York myself. How you like Pietro
Anzieri? Too slow for me; I only come to see my old mother; go back next
month; got a job at Pittsbourgo.”

He was a hearty fellow, twenty-two or-three years old, a good type of
the Abruzzi peasant, plus the American expression.

“How long have you lived over there?”

“Since I was a leetle boy--eleven or twelve, I dunno.”

The doctor says that most of those who go out to America under the age
of twenty take root in our country and stay there. Men of thirty only
remain long enough to “make their pile,” coming back to Italy to grow
old and spend it.


ROCCARASO, September 28, 1898.

To Castel di Sangro this morning: a gay market-town set in a flowery
meadow beside a small river widening below the bridge into a pond where
the women were washing clothes. I thought I recognized a pink shirt
being beaten between two stones as one of J.’s, which Elena ought to
have herself washed. Her aunt lives here. Perhaps she is a washerwoman!
We were puzzled by the name, Castel di Sangro,--the _castelli_ are all
hill towns,--till we learned that the inhabitants several hundred years
ago deserted the original Castel di Sangro, perched on a hill even
harder to climb than Roccaraso’s, and moved, bag and baggage, down to
the plain and founded the present town. The fibre of the race had
softened since the founders built that crumbling _castello_! We climbed
to the top; the view was well worth the stiff walk. The old town is now
a city of the dead. Long lines of black numbered crosses mark the
graves. Where they stopped a wide, deep open trench began. An old
fellow, a sort of rustic sacristan, who had come up to clean the church,
was the only person in sight.

“What is that trench for?” we asked him.

“_’Gnor_, who can tell which of us it may serve as a bed? In summer we
prepare for winter; when the earth is frozen hard we cannot break her
crust to bury the dead.” He went back to the church and began to toll
the bell.

Looking down, we saw a funeral procession like that in Siegfried
climbing slowly up the narrow, steep mountain path. We went down by a
steep track on the other side to avoid meeting it.

We lunched at the inn; J. ordered trout (the stream is alive with them),
which were served pickled! Everything else was very good. It was a
market day, and the town was full of people; one dealer wished to sell
us a horse, another offered a cow with a crumpled horn. Everywhere the
women were busy making _conserva di pomodoro_; outside the windows of
nearly every house were wooden bowls full of mashed tomatoes evaporating
in the sun. This conserve is the staple condiment of Italian cooking, as
necessary as butter or Parmesan cheese. The tomatoes are reduced to a
stiff red paste, which keeps indefinitely and is used to make tomato
sauce, to dress _risotto_, _spaghetti_, _carciofi_, served in every
conceivable way. Being so concentrated it makes a much richer sauce
than you can get from canned tomatoes. When we got back to Roccaraso we
found that Vittoria had begun to prepare our winter supply of
_conserva_--it takes days to make it. This gives the house a pervasive
fragrance of “golden apples” and produces a comfortable sense of
household thrift.

There is a full moon to-night: a white mist marks the line of the
Rasino; it is too late in the year for nightingales: from the valley
comes a faint snatch of music, played on a shepherd’s pipe, “_povera
rondinella, O povera rondinella!_”



VI

SCANNO


ROCCARASO, October 1, 1898.

Last Monday morning, having decided quite suddenly to go to Scanno, we
applied to the _sindaco_ for horses and a guide.

“For to-morrow, yes, I will arrange everything; for to-day it is not
possible.”

“Why? The weather is fine, it is only nine o’clock. If we start at noon
we shall be in time.”

“_Pazienza, Signori!_ I tell you it is not possible. The horses are at
Pietro Anzieri threshing oats. The guide has gone to sell a pig at
Castel di Sangro; it is market day.”

“There must be other horses. Do you mean to say there is but one man in
Roccaraso who knows the road to Scanno? Even Mariuccia has been there.”

“Doubtless! many of our women went there last year on a pilgrimage. It
is not easy to find a man who knows the way: it is a horrible mountain
trail. I myself, Signors, born in Roccaraso, have not seen Scanno.”

“We shall start at twelve to-day, if we have to walk and take Mariuccia
for a guide.”

I was sorry for the _sindaco_, a progressive man, with a dim sense at
the back of his head of a future for Roccaraso if the mad _forestieri_
take a fancy to it. He pulled his long ginger whiskers and considered.

“There is Fra Diavolo, brother of him I would send with you; possibly he
knows the way, but I take no responsibility.”

“Send Fra Diavolo and the horses at noon, and the responsibility shall
be upon our own heads.” He shook _his_ head, pained but indulgent. The
ways of the _forestieri_ are becoming known to him, and their lack of
that virtue of old people and old peoples, _pazienza_!

At quarter to twelve Fra Diavolo was at our door, with a vicious mule
and pack-saddle for me, a weak-kneed, blind horse with prehistoric
trappings and saddle-bags for J. We soon left the dazzling white road,
struck across a grassy valley, and entered a wild, stony gorge, which
reminded us of the Colorado Canyon. The path is the worst I have seen
outside of Palestine. We soon dismounted and let Fra Diavolo lead our
beasts. He had to be very careful, lest they should break their legs.
The walls of the ravine towered on either side of us; to the left the
granite rocks, which form the summit, seemed to have been shaped into
Gothic battlements, towers, and buttresses. I could hardly believe that
nature, and not one of the Sangallo family (the famous architects), had
been the designer. The trees are of primeval growth. The gorge is
crossed by open plateaus and glens covered with ancient oaks and
beeches. At three o’clock we halted in a fairy dell beside a spring. The
water ran through a trough made from the hollowed trunk of a tree. A
pink-nosed sheep was drinking--the only brave sheep I ever saw,--I had a
hand-to-hand battle with him to get my share of the water. Afterwards J.
and I sat down to rest and contemplated the trail, which here divided
into two.

“Which is the way to Scanno?” we asked our guide.

“Who knows, Signori?” said Fra Diavolo.

“Do not you?”

“No more than yourselves.”

“Why did you say you could show us the way?”

“With the tongue one may go to Sardinia.”

“But we have been walking three hours; for the last two we have met no
living creature except these sheep.”

“Where there are sheep there will be a shepherd,” said Fra Diavolo.

“_Povera rondinella, povera rondinella!_” The familiar air was played on
a shepherd’s pipe.

“What did I say?” growled Fra Diavolo, a really cross person.

We came upon the shepherd a minute later. He sat with his back against
an oak playing on a pipe; near him a goat with one hind leg in splint
cropped the grass. They both seemed astounded at seeing us.

“The way to Scanno, _figlio mio_?”

“This is not the path. Where have the Signori come from? Roccaraso? it
is not possible! You have come by a trail only fit for goats and asses.
Why did you not take the mule-path? That is easy enough.”

“Well, for certain excellent reasons we did not take the mule-path, but
we are going to Scanno all the same.”

“Truly? Then take the lower path--of an unimaginable badness! With good
luck you may reach Scanno by _Ave Maria_.”

_Ave Maria_ is a little puzzling till you learn that it varies with the
season of the year, and is always celebrated fifteen minutes after
sunset.

By this time the gorge was in shadow, and though it is one of the most
beautiful places on earth, and we knew we should never see it again, we
pushed on as fast as we could. At sunset we toiled up the high hill on
which Scanno is perched. It is an old, gray, walled town; the gates
stood open. At the fountain just outside the gateway a dozen women and
girls were drawing water. The moment I saw them I cried out, “They look
like Greeks.” I can hardly tell what gave the impression. J. says it was
the head-dress; I think it was their expression. Their bearing was as
free and noble as the Roccarasans’, but less friendly. They took no
notice of us, showed nothing of that kindly animation and curiosity we
usually find, though travellers are scarce in these parts. I only know
one person who has been here--Enrico Coleman, the painter. I question if
either Mr. Baedeker or Mr. Hare have seen Scanno. Edward Lear was here
in 1856; his visit is the last I have found described in guide-bookery.
Here, I believe, he met that old person of Abruzzi, “so blind that he
could not his foot see. When they said, ‘That’s your toe,’ he replied,
‘Is that so?’ that doubtful old man of Abruzzi.”

_He_ had a certain stoicism, you see, like our silent women at the
fountain. Before going to the inn we stopped at a delicious gray stone
church near the gate, pushed aside the heavy leathern curtain, and
looked in. The church, decorated for a _festa_, blazing with candles,
was full of kneeling people; three priests in superb vestments were
officiating at the altar. The air was gray with the smoke of incense;
the cracked organ and harsh-voiced choristers were in full blast.
Somehow, the sumptuousness of this vespers service was extraordinarily
moving. Coming suddenly upon it after our pilgrimage over that lonely
trail made it doubly impressive.

The inn was filthier than we should have believed possible; our rooms
had not been made up since the last occupants departed. The food was
incredibly bad; even the spaghetti, dressed with rancid oil, was
uneatable. The poor landlady was so mortified at our not eating things,
and brought in the spaghetti with such an air of triumph, that we
waited until her back was turned before we threw it out of the window
into a little, dark back street, where the dogs devoured it. We supped
on the ends of bread and cheese from our saddle-bags, and raw eggs,--the
cooked ones, like the spaghetti, tasted of rancid oil. One of the first
things to learn, if you mean to travel in the byways of the world, is
how to take raw eggs. If you are sure of your glass, break your egg into
it, put a pinch of salt on the tongue, and swallow white and yolk whole.
If the glass is doubtful, you must go back to first principles, and suck
your eggs as the rats do; if they are fresh, like the Scanno eggs, there
is no better way of taking them.

We were so tired with our six hours’ tramp that we went to bed at
half-past nine--and got up again at ten! Sleep was impossible; the
pleasures of the chase only were ours that night. We made ourselves as
comfortable as we could on chairs, wrapped up in the rugs without which
we have learned never to travel. In the dim watches of the night J.
invented a portable bed, drawing the design with a burnt match in the
back of Baedeker the faithless, who only says that Scanno is the most
interesting point in the Abruzzi, and makes foolish remarks about how
high it is, the circumference of its lake, and such dry details. While
J. was designing the portable bed, I planned a foot-note to Baedeker,
about Scanno.

We made out better at breakfast than at supper. Remembering the saying,
“An egg, an apple, and a nut, you may take from any slut,” we ordered
boiled eggs, potatoes roasted in the ashes, and some raw apples.
Afterwards we walked about the town and visited the market-place, where
we had a good chance to see the strange costume of the women. The
head-dress is a curious black turban covering the whole head; the hair
showing behind the ears and below the turban is tightly braided with
bright-colored wool--red, green, yellow. I fancy each color has its
significance; perhaps one is for maids, one for matrons, one for widows.
The short skirt of heavy green cloth plaited at the waist is very full,
the bodice of dark blue cloth has large leg-of-mutton sleeves and
fastens with pretty silver buttons. The high linen chemise showing at
the neck is edged with handsome lace (_real_, of course, they quite
properly scorn the machine-made variety). Nobody offered to make
friends with us; the women held themselves proudly aloof: this was fine,
but not encouraging. The whole place is grave, gray, dignified; there
are some important-looking houses, one belonging to a rich merchant has
an air of solid well-being and thrift. Next time we shall take the
advice of the _sindaco_ and have _pazienza_! If we had given him
twenty-four hours’ notice, he would have sent word to the Mayor of
Scanno that we were coming, and we should not have found things as we
did at the inn. We also should have had “to pay through the nose,” so
perhaps it was just as well to see Scanno for once _au naturel_.

We walked to the lake of Scanno, a mile from the town, an irregular
sheet of water with misty reflections of the bare gray mountains
towering above it and the tender willows on its banks. In the little
chapel of “L’Annunziata,” on the edge of the lake, we found hundreds of
votive offerings, silver hearts on one side of the shrine, on the other
discarded crutches and trusses, hung up by grateful sufferers
miraculously cured of their ailments. These reminded us of the temple of
Juno at Veii. You know the great Etruscan town near Rome, where we saw
and bought those lovely Etruscan terra-cotta heads, votive offerings
which the priests of Juno buried in a trench behind the temple when the
walls were too full to hold more. I wonder what the priests of Scanno do
with the overplus of crutches?

Outside the chapel we found raspberries, just like our red raspberries,
only black; they are delicious. The lake and the raspberries refreshed
us somewhat. The spell of the place--far from the beaten track of
travel, where we were neither wanted nor expected--was very strong, but
we were so worn that we shrank from the terrors of another night at the
inn, and our boots were so knocked up by yesterday’s climb that we could
not face the hardships of the trail. We consulted Fra Diavolo; he was
gloomier than ever.

“If the _forestieri_ are so fastidious, they might go to Naples, the
_giornaliere_--diligence--will start in an hour for Anversa, where they
can get the train.”

“_Ma come si fa?_ What will become of you, the horse, and the mule?”

“Yesterday I brought these abominable animals as well as yourselves
safely over that infamous devil’s road. To-day I return by the proper
road, fit for a Christian, not merely for goats and asses,” he began
angrily; then a thought struck him and he changed his tune:

“It is true there are greater dangers in going by a strange road than by
one, however poor, that one is acquainted with. The animals are the
_sindaco’s_, and more valuable than the _forestieri_ realize. Would they
abandon me in this strange _paese_, where I have no relatives, not even
a friend? Hearts of stone! At least they must pay a man to help lead
back these poor, abandoned ones, which they may despise, but which the
_sindaco_ doubtless finds useful.”

To see Fra Diavolo work himself into this state of righteous indignation
was well worth the price we paid a man to help convey the blind horse
and the lame mule back to Roccaraso. As the diligence did not leave for
an hour, we saw the caravan start, Fra Diavolo riding the horse, the
Scannan following upon the mule.

The carriage road leading down from the town is quite as steep, if a
trifle smoother, than the trail; on one side there is a sheer drop of a
hundred feet to a stony gorge below. The driver of the _giornaliere_ was
very drunk; the harness of one horse, a restive gray, was made almost
entirely of an old clothes-line. As soon as we started the gray sat
down like a circus horse, his front feet firmly planted in the road
before him, whereupon the clothes-line traces broke.

“What did I say, Manfredo?” cried the driver to the guard. “Would it not
have been a sin to put a good harness on this _cavallaccio maledetto_? I
tell you he has never been driven before. Would it be sensible to waste
good leather traces upon this _brutta bestia_?”

“_Zitto, Orlando!_” said the guard, who was sober.

I am afraid I screamed to be let down from the box seat.

“Neither horse, harness, nor driver is fit for the road if the voyagers
wish to reach Anversa alive,” J. said firmly; “send them back
immediately and provide others, or I will appeal to the _sindaco_.”

A little, dried-up man scrambled out from the stuffy interior of the
_giornaliere_ and joined the fray.

“The Signor Marchese is right, Manfredo; send Orlando back with that
hangman’s brute. The return diligence will be here in ten minutes; we
will take one of their animals, and you yourself must drive.” We waited
a full half hour for the incoming stage. In the crowd of loiterers that
quickly gathered we recognized the man we had paid to help Fra Diavolo
lead the animals back to Roccaraso. “What have you done with the mule of
his Excellency?” J. asked. The fellow pointed to the trail. “He is on
his way home. Fra Diavolo found he could manage both beasts very well
alone.”

When the other stage arrived, Manfredo persuaded its driver to exchange
one of his horses with us, and Orlando Furioso to change places with
him. A fat arch-priest put down the window and looked out.

“What in the name of all the saints is the matter with that evil horse?”

“_Illustrissimo_, the animal is like one of yourselves,--he does not
like to work,” said the thin little man, a lawyer from Scanno.

“_Grazie, grazie_ (thank you),” said the arch-priest, taking the chaff
in good part.

Once we had started, everything went like magic. The drive from Scanno
to Anversa is as fine as the Cornice or the Sorrento drives. It is
mostly down hill, and took us just three hours; the return trip takes
five. I had been almost afraid to sit outside lest, after our sleepless
night, I should go to sleep and fall off, but the great gray mountains
and the grim gray gorges kept me awake. The road runs nearly all the way
beside the river Saggittario, which has more moods than one would have
imagined possible in a single thread of water. Sometimes it dashes,
white and angry, over a rough bottom between rocky sides; then it
spreads out into clear pools, “alive with trout,” the lawyer said.
Sometimes it is green and full of fight, sometimes brown, still, and
lazy. We saw an eagle light on a crag far over our heads. We were really
dazed with the wonders we had seen by the time we reached Anversa, where
we took the train. We had to go all around Robin Hood’s barn, so that we
did not get home to Roccaraso till after dark.

On our way from the station we were overtaken by Mariuccia, who was
eager to hear how we had fared.

“_Aimé, ’Gnor’_, when I saw Fra Diavolo return with the animals and
without your illustrious selves I was much afflicted! The inhabitants of
Scanno _sono gente mal educata, e di nessuna fede_ (people without
breeding or good faith). The _sindaco_ himself was much alarmed, good
man; I must take the news to his house that you have returned safely.”

“What is that you are carrying on your head, Mariuccia?”

“_’Gnora_, it is a little chest.” It was the most fascinating little
_cinque cento_ chest I ever saw, half the usual size, finely carved, and
looking as if it might be meant to hold jewels or treasure, as indeed it
was.

“To whom does it belong? Where are you taking it?” I touched it with my
bare hand: it was encrusted with earth.

“It belongs to one who is forgotten. I am taking it to the house next
yours. It is for _una povera creatura morta_ (a poor dead child). The
mother will give the _cassetta_ a thorough cleaning, and it will be as
good as when it was first put in the ground.”

“Good-night, Mariuccia! it is cold, we must hurry.”

“_Andiamo presto_: Let us hasten; I too am _in fretta_ (a hurry); we
must carry the infant to the church to-night.”

There was no getting rid of Mariuccia; the lid of the chest clap-clapped
with every step she took; the thing smelt of mortality.

“Where did the chest come from?”

“_’Gnora_, a few years ago when they built the railway an ancient
cemetery was disturbed. The bones of those who had been buried were all
put into the new graveyard, and such of the coffins as were whole were
stored in that old ruined church. When the very poor have need, they
help themselves. I am taking this to my cousin, but I would not have it
known by the neighbors, so I waited till dark, and, as you see, I am
taking it home by the quietest way.”

We were at last at our own door.

“_Buona notte_, Mariuccia.”

“_Felicissima notte, ’Gnora._”

J. says things have changed very little since he made his first trip
through the Abruzzi in the early eighties. He with two other artists
went first to Saracinesco, where they stayed at the house of Belisario,
the son of an old model of Fortuny’s (the great Spanish painter). They
had heard about the place from another Roman model called Fagiolo or the
Bean. When Fagiolo was a boy, his father gave him a large bag of beans
one morning and sent him out to plant a field. It was a fine, bright
day, and the boy, meeting other boys, decided to put off his work till
afternoon and went off birds’-nesting. Suddenly the sun began to set and
he realized that he had done nothing with the beans. He hurried to the
field, and digging one deep hole buried all the beans; then he went
home.

“You are late, my son. Where have you been?” asked the father.

“There were many beans; I have planted them all,” said the boy. By and
by, when it was time for vegetables to come up, the father was very much
troubled that nothing came up in the bean-field. One day he discovered
in the farthest corner a perfect thicket of tangled, spindly beans. From
that day the boy was known as Fagiolo.

The three artists were invited by Fagiolo to a feast, which J. describes
as the most primitive he has ever shared. They found the family all
gathered in the large living-room of a rather superior peasant’s house.
The floor was of mother earth, otherwise the room resembled our own
glorious kitchen at Roccaraso; there were golden-brown bladders of lard
and strings of garlic hanging from the ceiling; in front of the open
hearth were hand-wrought andirons with little cages at the top in which
the pipkins of food were kept hot. Fagiolo made them welcome, and his
wife having announced that the _polenta_ was ready, the husband
literally laid the board. The guests and the family seated themselves,
the children on wooden stools, the grown-up people on rush-bottomed
chairs, and Fagiolo took a large board from the corner. With a knife he
scraped off the dried meal sticking to it out at the door, the fowls
gathering to feed upon the scrapings. Then he passed his hand across the
board and, finding it comparatively smooth, laid it upon the knees of
the company, who were sitting in a circle. Next he took from the crane,
where it hung over the fire, a large three-legged iron pot of _polenta_
(hasty pudding) and emptied it upon the board. His wife with a long
pudding-stick spread out the mush to the proper thickness, then each
person staked out his claim by drawing a circle in the _polenta_ with a
leaden spoon. The smallest child, they noticed, drew the biggest circle,
and J. confesses to having drawn the smallest. Next Fagiolo took from
the cage in the andiron, where it had been keeping warm, a saucepan
filled with snails stewed in brown gravy, and helped each person to a
share of the snails, putting it down carefully within the limits of the
circle. That was all the feast, except the inevitable _vino di paese_,
which really takes the place of meat with these people.

By the advice of their host, Belisario, the artists had given their
money to Fagiolo to keep, as he was known to be honest, and would be
less likely to be suspected of having it than Belisario, in whose house
they were staying. After the snail feast Fagiolo went off to the inn.
Flattered by the honor the strangers had done him, he drank more than
was good for him, and began to boast of the money, several hundred
francs, the painters had confided to him. The sum grew in telling to
several thousand, and the news getting to Belisario that Fagiolo had
boasted at the inn, he begged the artists to depart without delay,
saying that he could no longer be responsible for their safety.

“The signori must depart, but to-day, at once; and yet they must appear
not to depart.”

“Explain yourself. How is it possible to depart and to appear not to
depart?”

“_Ma, è semplicissimo!_ The illustrious ones go out to sketch every day,
is it not so? Well, to-day they go as usual, but they do not return, and
these dogs will believe that they of Olevano have robbed them. The
signori must make haste to reach Tivoli before dark; there are brigands
about; the _carabinieri_ are on the lookout for them.”

“Nobody ever troubles artists.”

“For a good reason, they are not usually worth meddling with. If it had
not been for that cabbage-headed imbecile, Fagiolo! Ask him if I tell
you the truth.”

Fagiolo was even more frightened than Belisario. He actually wept.

“_Per carità_, my Signors, depart! depart! If you hope to see another
day, if you would not see your poor Fagiolo, who has served you
faithfully, put in prison for your murder.”

The three artists started, carrying their sketching kits, wearing their
red berrettas (flat red caps, something like Tam o’ Shanters). They took
the precaution to tuck their soft felt hats inside their waistcoats,
and, leaving the rest of their traps to be sent after them, set out
merrily on their sixteen-mile tramp to Tivoli. The road was most
beguiling; it leads through Vicovaro along the river Anio--down which
floated the mother of Romulus with her immortal twins--past “Cold
Digentia,” where the winter birding nets were set on Horace’s Sabine
farm. Is it wonderful that they loitered? that they even delayed to make
_un leggero bozzetto_ (just a note) of a small gray _castello_ perched
like an eagle’s nest on the top of a high hill? A white path zigzagged
up to the gate, an olive-grove clustered at the foot of the hill, a row
of stone pines ran along the sky line. The mere “bozzetti” grew into
serious sketches. All at once they saw outlined against the sky a long
procession of peasants coming back from their work in the fields below.
The women--riding in pairs upon the patient mules and asses, hung with
bells that jingled at every step--were singing the litany, the men made
the responses in their gruff voices.

“_Ave Maria, gratia plena._”

“_Ora pro nobis!_” then came the guttural “angk, angk!” of the men, and
the blows of their heavy sticks upon the backs of the poor beasts.

“They are singing the _Ave Maria_, which means that it must be late,”
said the eldest of the three artists, the Spaniard, Catherez. “We must
be going.”

It was nearly sunset, and they were not half way to Tivoli. They
exchanged their berrettas for their felt hats, and began to walk in
good earnest. Soon after dark they met a band of _carabinieri_, who
brought them to a halt.

“Where do you come from?”

“Saracinesco.”

“That is so likely! From what inn?”

“It should be known to you that there is no inn there where one may
sleep. We stayed at the house of Belisario.”

“Where are you going?”

“To Tivoli.”

It began to rain. They thought they had answered enough questions and
were impatient to be off. J. was the first to move. A guard caught him
by the coat and began to feel of him suspiciously.

“What have you got there?” He pulled out the innocent berretta. “A
disguise? What do honest men want with disguises? Have you any papers to
prove that what you say is true?”

They had all taken out sportsmen’s licenses before leaving Rome, but,
unfortunately, they had mixed the papers up. Ricardo Villegas loftily
presented a license describing J.

“How is this? English? five foot eleven? fair complexion? By the mass,
these papers are stolen! This man is no Inglese. He is not above five
feet seven, and he is as dark as a Moor. In the name of the King, I
arrest you.”

They were marched off to Tivoli, to spend the night in the vast, bare
guard-room, where every hour the grave _carabinieri_ came and went in
squads, as the guards were changed. In the morning they were allowed to
send telegrams to their respective consuls in Rome, and by ten o’clock
they were set at liberty, with a warning to be more careful in future.

The artists suspected, justly or unjustly, that the weather had much to
do with their arrest. It was a miserable evening, when three possible
brigands in the hand might be reckoned as worth more than a whole band
in the bush!



VII

VIAREGGIO--LUCCA--RETURN TO ROME


VIAREGGIO, October 15, 1898.

The long mole runs far out into the sea, the light-house stands at the
extreme end; here we watch the fishing-boats come in every evening, the
sailors poling them along the mole to their harborage in the river. They
build boats at Viareggio; the real interest of the town, quite apart
from the watering-place life, centres in the weatherbeaten sailors, the
cumbrous craft with their rich colored sails, the smell of tar, oakum,
and fish. This morning we watched a pair of old salts calking the seams
of a dory; they had a fire and a pot full of black bubbling stuff,
“pitch, pine, and turpentine.” It is late in the season for sea-bathing;
this morning we were the only people who braved the pleasant cool water.
There is a fine beach with a gradual slope and, as far as I have
discovered, no undertow. Last night we walked in the _pineta_, the
wonderful old pine forest that embraces Viareggio, spreading out in a
half circle, sheltering it from the north winds and leaving it open to
the kindly influences of the sea.

Viareggio is full of memories of Shelley; we saw the place where his
body was washed ashore, where Trelawney found and burned it in the old
classic fashion. We heard the question discussed whether the yacht Don
Juan was lost by accident (she was a crank boat) or had been run down by
a felucca, whose piratical sailors believed Lord Byron to be on board
with a chest of treasure. I suppose we shall never know the truth, so as
I am loath to think ill of any sailor, I shall go on believing it was an
accident.

It is strange to find ourselves again on the high road of travel, after
the loneliness of the Abruzzi. Since the days of the Phoenicians,
invading armies of Huns, Goths, Longbeards, palmers, pilgrims, and their
descendants, tourists and tramps have patrolled every step of the road
we are now travelling.

We drove from Viareggio to Lucca, two and a half hours, through the
beautiful Tuscan country in its glowing harvest colors,--every farm a
glory, with heaped barrels of grapes waiting to be trodden into wine,
strings of yellow, yellow Indian corn and scarlet peppers hanging over
the fronts of the houses. The way led through an olive grove: all about
us were twisty witch trees, a misty gray wood in which one looked right
and left for Merlin and Vivian. Then came a chestnut forest, the great
bursting burs filled with big shiny Italian chestnuts. We stopped at the
house of a vine grower known to our driver, and asked leave to visit the
vineyard. The proprietor, a tall lean man, with a touch of the faun
about him (J. wants to paint him as the god Pan) welcomed us cordially.
The large Tuscan speech strikes sweetly on our ears after the clipped
Italian of the Abruzzi. Even the working people in Tuscany have a
certain elegance in turning a phrase which southern Italians of far
greater culture lack. Nothing could be more up to date than this Tuscan
vineyard, almost as tidy and progressive as the German vineyards. That,
after all, is the great thing about travelling; you visit not only
different countries, but different ages. A thousand years lie between my
friend “Pittsbourgo’s” Etruscan method of ploughing, at Pietro Anzieri,
and the system on which this neat thrifty Tuscan vineyard is run.

“Those look like American Isabella grapes!” we exclaimed.

“They are what they appear to be,” said the _vignajuòlo_; “behold an
experiment! Many of my best vines were destroyed by the phylloxera, an
obnoxious insect which girdles the roots so that the vines die! Do you
think I would allow myself to be vanquished by a mere insect? I send to
North America for these hardy vines which have so bitter a root that the
vile insect touches them not. I graft the native Italian grape upon the
American vine and wait. Meanwhile, until I am sure of my grafting, not
to lose all profit, I allow the American vines to bear grapes from which
I make wine of some sort. I tell you in confidence, it is only fit for
_contadini_ to drink, I would not offend you by offering it to you. _Ma,
pazienza!_ by and by, I shall cut back the vine to the grafting, and the
native vine will flourish upon the American root! Then I shall have a
wine worthy to offer _vostra signoria_!”

Here is progress for you; here is a man not satisfied to do as his
fathers did; here is a country of to-day, a people with a future!

Having made the _giro_ of the vineyard, we came back to the large
stuccoed farmhouse which had originally been painted a violent pink; now
the color, softened by sun, rain, and time, is a rich variegated
yellow. With a gracious gesture, our host threw open the door, and stood
smiling in the sun, the matchless human sunshine of Italy in his dark
shy face. When he talked about his vines he had been all animation; the
ceremony of inviting a lady into his dwelling was rather irksome to him.

“The signori will do me the honor of entering my poor abode?” He showed
us into an apartment only a shade less austere than the waiting-room of
a convent. It was clean, cold, and of a frightful bareness. Let us hope
there was an enchanting kitchen--like our never-to-be-forgotten kitchen
at Roccaraso--somewhere in the offing, where our handsome Pan might take
his ease.

“The signori will do me the honor to try a glass of my wine?”

J. asked if he had any wine of Chianti. He laughed.

“_Eccellenza_, shall I tell you the truth? I have tuns of wine which I
shall sell for Chianti. All you _forestieri_ know that name and demand
that wine. The real wine of Chianti would not supply the town of Lucca.
Chianti is a small _paese_; its wine is good, who shall deny it? but
not so good as that which you will honor me by trying!”

I held out for a glass of the “Americano”; it tastes rather like the
unfermented grape juice we have at home.

       *       *       *       *       *

Lucca at last! a dear, queer, delightful old town with ramparts and
fortifications in fine preservation. It has a delicious slumberous
quality: its glorious days are in the past; its mediæval walls
effectually shut out the rustle and bustle of to-day. My earliest
childish impressions concerning Lucca centre about certain long thin
glass bottles bearing the words “Sublime Oil of Lucca,” always in
evidence at home when there was to be a dinner party. Cross German Mary,
the swarthy culinary goddess of our youth, used to hold one of those
deceitful bottles gingerly in a clawlike hand, letting the sublime
liquid trickle drop by drop into the yellow mixing-bowl wherein she
compounded salad dressing such as I have not since tasted. Later in life
I was once delayed by a crowd on State Street, Chicago, outside a
wholesale warehouse on which was written in large letters “Cotton Seed
Oil.” I had to wait for a moment while a crate full of spick and span
new _empty_ bottles with fresh gold labels bearing the familiar legend
“Sublime Oil of Lucca” was carried into the warehouse! Can you solve me
that mystery?

During our first dinner in Lucca, I inevitably demanded “_un poco di
quest’olio sublimo_.”

“_Ecco lo quà, Signora_ (behold it here, lady),” said the fat waiter,
offering a familiar straw-covered flask of oil, just like those we have
in Rome. Sublime Oil of Lucca in long, thin, deceitful bottles is not to
be had in Lucca!

My second impression of the town is connected with another cook, the
excellent Pompilia: she was born here and first went out to service with
a great lady who lived in Florence in the winter, and at Bagni di Lucca
in the summer. I have often been made to feel my inferiority to that
lady, and enjoyed a certain revenge in refusing to drive out to see
Bagni di Lucca, whose fine hotels and bath establishment do not tempt
us. We prefer Lucca and the “Universe,” a queer old caravansary, whose
limitations we endure in that transcendental spirit with which Margaret
Fuller accepted the larger universe. The hotel has been a palace of some
importance: our bedroom is of the size and character of the stage of
Covent Garden Theatre, when set for the last act of Othello. The gloomy
majesty of the furniture is quite appalling; the two stupendous beds
could easily accommodate the whole family of children at Orton House.

The first day we drove out into the neighboring country, where we found
the same joyous harvest atmosphere we left in the Abruzzi. The town of
Lucca is mellow with another harvest, the great art harvest of the
renaissance; pictures and marbles that strike us fresh and strong from
the dead hands that made them, not too familiar like the more famous
works of Florence and Venice. We never before knew much of Matteo
Civitalis, the statuary; he is now our loving friend for life. Fra
Bartolomeo, the Lucca painter, we already knew, though not so intimately
as now. We have put in some days of hard sightseeing. Did I say hard?
no, splendid, soul inspiring. I feel as if I had put my lips to the
fountain of life, and drawn deep draughts of inspiration. There are
great churches, grim St. Romano and San Michele, the cathedral with its
precious jewel, the tomb of Ilaria del Carretto, one of the most lovely
monuments of the renaissance. As we lingered near the tomb the old
sacristan approached; he eyed us anxiously before speaking.

“The signori are interested in sculpture?” We said that we were. “If
their excellences have time, I will gladly show them what the church
contains of interest to the amateur.”

How often he must have been snubbed and hurried by breathless tourists!

“A thousand thanks. We have come to Lucca partly to see the cathedral of
St. Martino; figure to yourself if we have time!”

The withered old face broke up into the tenderest smile; it went to
one’s heart that he should offer so timidly a service so precious. We
spent the morning mousing about the church seeing all its treasures in
the mellow glow of the old man’s enthusiasm.

“The illustrious ones have heard, perhaps, of a certain English writer
who calls himself Ruskino?”

We said that we knew Ruskin’s books. He flushed with pleasure. “He was
my friend; more than thirty times he visited Lucca, and he never came
without making a sketch of the tomb of Ilaria.”

We go into the cathedral every day to look at Ilaria, where she sleeps
in marble effigy, flower crowned, immortally young and lovely, just as
Jacopo della Quercia, the sculptor, saw her, nearly five centuries ago.
The tombs of Lucca remind one of the memorial tablets of the Street of
Tombs in Athens. It is hard to say just where the resemblance lies; in
form and manner there is little in common, the resemblance is of the
subtler, deeper sort; a spiritual not a material likeness!


PALAZZO RUSTICUCCI, ROME, October 16, 1898.

We found our dear old palace very much as we had left it, save that
Ignazio, the gardener, had suddenly, and without orders, added one
hundred pots of flowers to the terrace. The difficulty and fatigue of
watering this hanging garden of Babylon sometimes seems more than J. and
I and Pompilia, our horticultural cook, can manage. Yet I cannot regret
the addition which promises many new delights,--chrysanthemums among
them. Pompilia asked many questions about what we had seen in our
wanderings; she cannot forgive us for not having driven out to Bagni di
Lucca! She tells me that she too is a great traveller.

“_Sa, Signora mia, ho viaggiato per tutto il mondo. Da Lucca a Firenze,
da Firenze a Lucca, da Lucca a Firenze, e poi a Roma!_ Know, mistress,
that I have travelled all over the world, from Lucca to Florence” (the
distance is about fifty miles), “from Florence to Lucca,” etc.

Our first visitor after our return to Rome was Sora Giulia, the
dark-eyed Jewess who keeps an antiquarian’s shop in the Borgo Nuovo, a
few doors away.

“Welcome home, Signora. I have brought you a few _occasioni_ (bargains);
a piece of lace, well, wait till you see it, _un oggetto unico_!”

Nena took Sora Giulia’s baby while the antiquarian untied her green
damask bundle of old lace and linen.

“Behold, _Signora mia_, this priceless flounce. How well it would become
you on a vesture of ceremony!”

She spread out with a caressing touch a deep lace flounce of Milan
point. It was indeed “an unique object.” The sacred letters IHS and all
the emblems of the Passion were wrought into it with wonderful freedom
of design,--the ladder, the cross, the mallet, and so on. It had
evidently been made for an ecclesiastic.

“It is truly a splendid piece of lace, Sora Giulia, but is it not known
to you that such a flounce may only be worn by a _sacerdote_?”

“_I preti sono poveri!_”

“Not all priests are poor. Show it to Don Marcello.”

“_Ma chè_--, he buys no longer, he has to sell. But you, Signora, you
are not like these others. _Eh dica, lei è veramente Christiana?_ (Say,
are you really a Christian?)”

Was not her eagerness _not_ to have me a Christian pathetically
significant? My mother remembers her Hebrew master, a scholarly Jew,
taking hurried farewells of her in order to get back to the ghetto
before the gates were shut at eight!

“I cannot buy this flounce. I could not wear it if I did.”

“_Per carità_, then look at this _reticella_.” (Literally “small net,” a
coarse white netting with designs worked in by hand.) “The _forestieri_
are mad about _reticelle_, they are buying them all up to make
table-cloths and pillow covers. Soon it will be impossible to find them.
I never saw a better piece, you shall have it at your own price. In
confidence, the _padrone di casa_ says if he is not paid his rent to-day
he will turn us out. What a bad season we have had! No travellers since
June. Those Florentine antiquarians put lies in the papers about there
being plague or cholera, or some such _porcheria_ in Rome, just to keep
the voyagers away from us. We make nothing; but we must eat and pay our
rent all the same! The _padrone_....”

“With respect, he is an infamous beast, they all are, _Madonna mia_!”
Nena broke in. When she took Sora Giulia’s part I knew that the
antiquarian was really in straits. We bought the _reticella_ for the sum
due the landlord, and Nena went downstairs to the baker’s shop to change
the bill.

“Sora Nena will tell you that I speak the truth. That brute of a
_padrone_ extorted her rent yesterday, took her last _centesimo_. What
is the result? I tell you, this morning Nena’s daughter had nothing to
eat for her breakfast but one raw lemon. In consequence, the child at
the breast has colic, which is not strange.”

“What about the child’s father?”

“He is a _muratore_ (mason), but he gets no work. Sora Nena gives him to
eat as well as his wife.”

Nena is a Venetian, and she takes snuff. She has other faults but I hear
oftenest of these from the other servants. Before we went to Roccaraso I
asked her if she had ever owned a silk dress. She laughed at the
question; “silks were not for the likes of her,” etc. In parting I gave
her a cast-off black satin, with rather peculiar wide stripes. The first
Sunday after our return Pompilia went to mass in the satin dress, and
poor pathetic little Nena in her old snuff-stained cotton gown. When I
asked an explanation, she said that she had sold the satin to the cook:
“Pompilia can afford to wear silk; I ask you, whom has she in the world
belonging to her? Some cousins, who send her a basket of flowers on her
_festa_! She puts every _soldo_ she can scrape together on her back.
Well, let that console her for being a _zitella_! “If you could have
heard the spiteful hiss of her _zitella_ (old maid). Nena has a
daughter, an idle son-in-law, and seven grandchildren to support, but
she pities Pompilia, who has only herself to think of!

“When the _forestieri_ come, you will recommend me to them?” said Sora
Giulia in parting. I can do so with a good conscience. If she guarantees
a candlestick to be silver, you may be sure it is not merely plated. If
a bargain is struck she will keep her side of it; as much cannot be said
of all her Christian confrères among antiquarians.

It is strange how the _antichità_ mania attacks people in Italy. Every
one we know collects some manner of junk. A friend of J.’s who goes in
for old coins was driving near Girgente, in Sicily, through the wildest,
most primitive country. A peasant digging in a field offered him a
handful of coins, moist with mud, just turned up with the spade.

They were all ancient Roman coins, copper or silver, familiar and not
particularly valuable, with the exception of one rare Greek goldpiece
which he bought for a large price. Afraid of being robbed, he took the
next boat for Naples, pushed on to Rome, where he had been passing the
winter, showed his treasure trove to an expert, and learned that there
were but three others known to be in existence: one in Berlin, another
in the British Museum, a third in a private collection. When he reached
London, he showed his coin to the gentleman in charge of the collection
at the British Museum. They compared it with the specimen in the case.
The Girgente coin seemed as good a specimen; as a last test it was put
under a powerful lens, which showed it to be a brand new imitation!

The Muse of Via Gregoriana, J. C., has a catholic taste and buys all
manner of things from empire furniture to silver lamps. Her last craze
is for peasant jewelry. She “acquires”--one does not buy
_antiquità_--every piece she can lay her hands on. Some of the designs
are excellent; the jewels are mostly flat rose diamonds, garnets, and
misshapen pearls set in silver. Out of half a dozen odd earrings she
will construct you a charming ornament, necklace, pendant, what not, and
sell it to you at a small profit, which she devotes to helping young
Roman musicians, several of whom owe their education to her. I call that
a pleasant combination, to make your hobby carry your charity.

I believe Rome is the best place in Europe to buy jewels, because
princes as well as peasants are continually throwing them on the market.
One day our jeweller, Signor Poce (he lives in a little shop in the
Corso, near the Piazza del Popolo), showed us a set of the finest
emeralds I have seen in years. He said they belonged to some great lady
who was obliged to part with them. That night we met those emeralds at
a ball! they were in the shop again the next morning! Don’t be too sorry
for the lady: she is a sensible English woman; and we happened to hear
that she has lately redeemed a long-neglected estate belonging to her
Roman husband, and is putting in modern improvements in the way of oil
and wine presses. It is the same with the poorer people. What you read
about the peasants parting with their precious possessions, furniture,
laces, jewels, is true, but it is only part of the truth; they are
selling them to buy better things--health and education! When you read
about the heavy taxes, remember what they pay for! What Italy has done
since 1870 is as wonderful as what France did in paying off the war debt
to Germany out of the farmers’ stockings. Reading and writing are better
than pearl earrings. The Tiber embankment, alone, cost the Romans a
pretty penny. It spoiled the picturesqueness of the river--the sloping
banks covered with trees and flowers must have been wonderful--and it
did away with the Roman fever! The river used to overflow its banks
every spring and to flood whole districts of the city. J. remembers
boats rowed by sailors going

[Illustration: _The Tiber, at the Ponte Nomantana_

From a photograph]

[Illustration]

about the Piazza Rotonda and along the Via di Ripetta, carrying bread to
the people in the submerged houses. When the river receded, “came the
famine, came the fever.” When I was in Rome for the first time, as a
girl, I had a bad case of old-fashioned Roman fever. Since my return, I
have seen Suora Gabriella, the dear nun who nursed me so faithfully (she
really saved my life) through that long dreadful illness. In speaking of
the character of the work done by the nursing sisterhood to which she
belongs, she said, “Since there is no more fever, the character of our
work has changed somewhat; we now take surgical cases!” The doctors and
hotel-keepers claim that Rome is the second healthiest city in Europe,
having the lowest death rate after London. If this is true, we owe it to
Garibaldi, for he it was who urged the Romans to build the Tiber
embankment,--their best monument to his memory.


October 25, 1898.

This morning, Maria, the porter’s wife, was announced. She had come on
“_ambasciata_” from the wife of the wine merchant opposite. “You
remember the poor little _gobbetto_ (hunch-back), Signora? the one who
has brought you so much luck, since that day when you rubbed his hump?”

“I remember him, yes; what of him?”

“He is very ill; he suffers much, cannot sleep, cannot eat. One sees all
his bones! His mother, poor woman, prays that you will ask the American
Marchesa who lives at the Palazzo Giraud Torlonia to lend her carriage
for the transportation of the _santo bambino_ (the holy child) from the
church of Santa Maria in Aracieli, to her house.”

“But why does she want the _santo bambino_ at her house?”

“After that blessed image visits his bedside, the poor _gobbetto_ will
either recover or find repose in death. It is too terrible to see him
suffer!”

“Is this thing which you tell me true?”

“It is most true, as you will see.”

I knew the poor crippled child, had one day taken him up in my arms.
Maria, seeing me, had supposed I knew the superstition that it is lucky
to touch the back of a _gobbo_.

“Will it be permitted to bring the _bambino_ to the house?”

“If a carriage can be sent of the proper style--there must be one
servant on the box and one to walk beside, there must be two horses; an
ordinary hired carriage from the piazza will not do.”

“If the Marchesa consents?”

“The _bambino_, attended by two priests, will be brought to the
_gobbetto’s_ bedside. Then the thing will soon be over for the poor
child--one way or the other!”

I went on the errand to my neighbor, Mrs. Haywood. (The Haywoods having
a title from the Vatican, she is called Marchesa by the poor people of
our quarter, but among her American friends she remains Mrs. Haywood.)
She is a kind woman and an excellent neighbor. I found her at home in
that splendid old Palazzo Giraud, built in 1503 (some say by the great
architect Bramante), occupied by Cardinal Wolsey when he was papal
legate. J.’s studio, by the way, is in one wing of this palace. Mrs.
Haywood gave me tea in the library, one of the finest rooms in Rome. It
has a balcony running around it, filled with rare books and manuscripts,
for Mr. Haywood is a great bibliophile.

I told her my “_ambasciata_.” Though she was kindly sympathetic, she
said “no” firmly, then explained. The Haywoods are the only people in
the Borgo (outside the Vatican) who keep a carriage. When they first
came to live here, they began by lending it whenever it was asked for,
to bring the _santo bambino_ to the sick. They soon found that, if they
ever wished to use their carriage themselves, they must make a hard and
fast rule to refuse all such requests. Knowing this, Maria and the
_gobbetto’s_ mother induced me to make the petition, on the chance that
the Marchesa might grant to a compatriot what she would deny them. When
it was found that my mission had failed, Maria, of the kind heart,
opened a subscription to pay for the hire of a suitable carriage. Every
member of our household, including Nena, has contributed to the fund.
“_Bisogna vivere a Roma coi costumi di Roma_,” says the Italian proverb,
“When you are in Rome do as Rome does!”



VIII

ROMAN CODGERS AND SOLITARIES


PALAZZO RUSTICUCCI, November 28, 1898.

To-day being the last Saturday in the month, Fra Antonio, the begging
friar, called for his _obolo_. I surprised him in the act of offering a
shabby horn snuff-box to Filomena. She had taken a pinch daintily
between a finger and thumb, and was folding it in a sheet of my best
Irish linen note paper.

“_Una presa di tabaco per Sora Nena_ (A pinch of snuff for Mrs. Nena),”
she explained. Poor Nena, little withered old woman, the servants’
drudge, it doesn’t matter about _her_ habits! Filomena, eighteen, rosy
as Aurora,--so pretty that young men make excuses to call at our old
green door to see her open it,--feared the shadow of suspicion that the
snuff was for her own use! Snuff is still taken in Italy by the old and
the old fashioned: it has the sanction of the clergy. In Rome, it is
thought hardly seemly for a priest to smoke, they nearly all use snuff;
indeed I have seen a priest take a sly pinch while officiating at the
altar. Snuff is the only luxury our monk Antonio knows. Do you blame J.
for sometimes keeping back a little of the money which we ought to give
the _frate_ for the general fund of the brotherhood, and investing it in
a packet of snuff for the old fellow’s particular comfort? I do not.

“_Frate_,” I said, “why did you become a monk?”

“Signora, the Madonna herself bade me take the vows.”

“You lead a happy life at the monastery?”

“Like others I have my troubles, mainly rheumatism.” (His poor old
veined feet looked cold in their sandals.)

“About those vows, now, how many are there?”

“They are three,” he counted them off on the knots of his rope girdle,
“poverty, obedience, chastity. Circumstances might conceivably release
me from the first and the second, but believe me, Signora,” he fixed an
earnest, rheumy eye upon me as he said it, “not even the Holy Father
himself could absolve me from the third vow.”

“_S’intende_ (One understands),” Filomena assented.

J. says we women folk all make a great fuss over the _frate_; during the
time old Santi (formerly the valet of Crawford _père_, ever since more
or less dependent on the family) was with us the _frate_ was rather
snubbed. Santi, for many years the majordomo of a rich monsignore,
scorned our dear Fra Antonio. He always forgot to serve the modest gift
the old monk brought us every month, a head of _barba di cappucini_
(capuchin’s beard) a sort of curly lettuce the monks raise in their
garden. Santi was a character for you: he had an unctuous ecclesiastical
manner suggestive of sacerdotal ceremonial. When he passed a plate of
steaming _fettuccie fatt’ in casa_ (ribbons made in the house, home-made
macaroni) one was reminded of an acolyte handling a smoking censer. He
was not with us long; though he was as handsome as a king, with the most
distinguished manners, we were relieved to be rid of him; he who had
served cardinals and princes of the Church seemed out of place waiting
on our small table. I have recognized Santi’s sacerdotal manner in
Cardinal Rampolla’s servants and in the attendants of other churchmen
we have visited.

Cardinal Rampolla lives over there at the Vatican. The day we called on
him we merely had to walk across the Square of St. Peter and knock at
his door, as it were! We were astonished at being taken up to his
apartment in an elevator--an elevator at the Vatican seems an
anachronism! Living not a stone’s throw from the Vatican we are
strangely aware of the mighty heart of the Catholic Church, and have
grown sensitive to its pulsations, whether stirred by events at the
Philippines or in the New York elections! Cardinal Rampolla is in
constant attendance upon the Pope. A friend of ours once invited him to
his villa outside Rome.

“It would rest your Eminence to get away for a few hours!” he urged.

“_Aimè, magari potessi_ (If I only could)!” sighed the cardinal. Our
friend says the sigh and look showed a depth of weariness he had never
suspected in the dark energetic man at the helm. They say the cardinal
has only slept outside the Vatican once since the day the Pope appointed
him secretary of state years ago! That was on the night of his mother’s
death; the next day he came back to the cold palace with its hundreds of
rooms inhabited by four thousand men and not one woman or child. I often
wonder about the dusting of those endless halls, chapels, and suites of
apartments!

Do you suppose that vast hive of celibates is the magnet that draws to
Rome its hoards of codgers and solitaries? I assure you their habits may
be studied better here than anywhere in the world. Though many of the
Roman codgers are more or less connected with the Vatican, there are
scores who have no relations with it, Protestants, Greek Orthodox,
Hebrews, and the like.

Rome must have been more picturesque when the Pope took his airing on
the Pincio, instead of walking and driving inside the walls of the
Vatican garden, as he does now. In those days the whole populace went
down on their knees whenever he appeared. Then the cardinals wore their
splendid vermilion robes every day: they must have made a joyful note of
color in the landscape! Now they wear sad black gowns, save at a _festa_
or some special function. Driving out into the Campagna on a fine
afternoon, one is almost sure to pass a sober, closed carriage drawn by
a pair of fat black horses, waiting by the roadside; a little farther
on, one meets some cardinal walking with his secretary. It is not
etiquette for a cardinal to walk in the streets of Rome while their head
remains the Prisoner of the Vatican; they must drive about to do their
errands, and get their airing outside the walls. Isn’t that fascinating?
But in society the cardinals often wear their pretty bright robes.

At the Haywoods’ the other day, a cardinal came to tea; our host and
hostess met him at the entrance, each carrying a lighted waxen torch.
All the guests (except heretics like ourselves) courtesied, kotowed, and
kissed his ring. It is not etiquette for a lady to be decolletée when a
churchman is to be of the party. It is just these endless
traditions--“links with the past”--which make Roman society to us
shadowless-moneyed-above-board republicans so absorbingly interesting!
Social life here is rich in shadows and lights, full of color and
imagination; no wonder the novelists never tire of using it for a
background.

Cardinal Hohenlohe, a true prince of the Church, keeps high state in
the historic Villa d’Este, among his wonderful cypresses, fountains,
terraces, and frescoed casinos. He surrounds himself with artists and
musicians, pays little heed to any gentle hint from the Vatican, and is
one of the most interesting persons one can see: his independence--he is
said to be a Rosminian--is due to his position as well as to his
character; he is of the Prussian royal family, cousin to the Emperor
William, and is possessed of a free and liberal spirit not easy to
control. The Hohenlohes are older than the Hohenzollerns, and a friend
of the cardinal’s once said to a friend of mine, that his Eminence in a
moment of wrath, for some reason or other, cried out: “Ugh!
Hohenzollern! They once were considered highly honored with the post of
holding the stirrup for the head of my house.” Was not that nice and
spiteful?

The cardinal’s banishment from Tivoli was extremely diverting. Two
English noblewomen of high rank, in Rome for the winter, wished to meet
all the distinguished personages possible. A dinner was arranged for
them by Baron Blanc, to which Cardinal Hohenlohe was invited. After all
the other guests had assembled, the company was thrown into a flutter
by the arrival of Crispi. Instead of Hohenlohe’s withdrawing (the usual
etiquette when exalted Black and White personages meet by chance in
society) they all went merrily in to dinner together. There were no end
of toasts, Prince and Patriot pledged each other in Baron Blanc’s best
wine. Mr. Stillman, who was of the company, remarked that it was
pleasant to see Eminences and “Eccellenzas” drinking each other’s
health. A neighbor at table whispered to the dauntless Stillman, “How
imprudent you are!” (As if he was ever anything else!)

Other people were proved to have been imprudent. The next day the great
prince cardinal was summoned to an interview with the Pope. What passed
between them gossip does not say, but the cardinal packed his bag and
left that afternoon for Perugia, where he passed three months in exile.
Another imprudence of the cardinal’s was his lending the Villa d’Este
for a political meeting in the campaign of Guido Baccelli (son of the
famous physician) who was at that time running for parliament. The story
of the poisoned figs used by Zola in his novel “Rome” was founded on a
sad incident at the Villa d’Este. Some poisoned food meant for the
cardinal was eaten by his steward, who died, I have been told, before
his very eyes.[3]

Codgers, both clerical and lay, are usually shy; you must not let them
know they are under observation if you hope to learn anything of their
habits. In spite of this, they are distinctly social and gregarious,
while the solitary lives and often dies alone. I asked one old gentleman
codger--an American--who often drops in on his way to his browsing
ground, the Vatican Library--what road first led him to Rome.

“The _via vegetaria_,” he said; “Rome has the finest vegetable market in
the world.” He may be right, I certainly know no city where vegetables
are so cheap, various, and good, but it seemed an odd reason for
settling here.

“Artichokes,” he went on, “are no dearer than potatoes; as to
_finocchio_, it is cheaper than bread.”

“Why could we not raise _finocchio_ at home?” I asked.

“Wait till we grow poor and thrifty,” he said, “till we drink sheep’s
milk, eat _capretto_ (kid) and miscellaneous fungi; then we shall find
the way to turn wild American fennel into domestic Italian _finocchi_.”

_Finocchi_ is a root something like celery; it has the same crisp
crunchiness, though it tastes rather like aniseed; the Romans eat it
raw, we prefer it braised and served with black butter. Why not try to
raise it in your garden? If you succeed in introducing a new vegetable,
you will acquire merit in the eyes of every dinner-ordering wretch in
the land. Fennel and kid. Two new dishes! There is a chance for you to
reach every heart between Maine and Alaska!

Poor old Mr. X---- died the other day; I shall miss him dreadfully. He
was the only snob variety of the genus codger in Rome; they are rare
anywhere, the codger’s social aspect being generally mild and mildewed.
I once asked him what had brought him to Rome (he came here twenty-five
years ago with two marriageable daughters).

“The fact that it is respectable to be idle here, and that one finds the
best society.” He said “the best society” in the sort of voice with
which raw and crude converts mention the Madonna or one of what the
Romans call _i soliti santi_ (the same old saints). His daughter--she
married Prince Q----, is a particularly nice woman; the comfort the old
gentleman took in his grandchildren’s titles was pleasing to behold. At
fifty he sat solidly down to enjoy the pleasures of “good society,” and
the occupation of collecting engraved gems. That old law of
compensation, you know, which makes some men after an idle youth leap
with fiery ardor to embrace hard work, was reversed for him. Having
grubbed all his youth he had the luck (it is rare) to find out how much
fun there may be in play, after all!

I went to see the Princess Q---- soon after the old gentleman’s death.
She told me something of his last days. “The night before my father died
he made me promise for the twentieth time that I would send his body
home. I asked him why he was so set on the idea. He rose right up in bed
and said in a loud voice, ‘I can’t bear to think that on the last day I
might rise from the dead along with these damned Italians!’”

Wasn’t that a death-bed revelation for you? The old man had been a New
York newsboy, had gone West, made his pile in rum; then sunk the shop
for good and all. He never talked about his early life, or where he came
from; he bragged of his daughter’s fine acquaintances, of his
son-in-law’s manners--but when his hour was come, he wished to lie in
the consecrated ground of his native land!

Never shall I forget the only visit I ever received from the prince of
solitaries, poor old Galli, the mad painter. He came in with his
dauntless, threadbare air, made a sweeping bow, and paid me an elaborate
compliment. His business, however, was plainly not with me.

“I have come, Signorino Jacca, to ask the favor of a few old clothes.”

He said it in such a spirited fashion that we felt the favor was
conferred rather than asked. I wish I could make you see Galli! He has
the hall mark of genius stamped upon him. Eyes like live coals,
hair--when J. first remembers him blue-gray, now a rich silver--worn
long, growing in masses with big waves, like the head of Zeus at the
Vatican. He tries in every way to keep up the pace of his youth; instead
of walking he shambles along at a funny bear’s trot; “having less time
than I once had,” he said to J., “I cannot afford to walk slowly like
some people of my age, so I am obliged to run.”

Galli is a Milanese, a descendant of those blond barbarians from the
North, the Lunghe Barbe. There is something ardent and free about him,
a starriness of the eyes, a breezy, untrammelled quality of mind which
suggests some far-off Teutonic ancestor. Among the dead level of the
people one meets, Galli stands out a marked man. As to the madness--was
Ludwig of Bavaria really mad, or a poet born in the wrong place? Mad or
sane, Galli is interesting: once you recognize that a man cannot be both
ordinary and extraordinary, cannot possess common sense and uncommon
sense, the vagaries of genius cease to annoy!

Whenever I hear the artists talking of Galli, I listen and try to
remember what they say: some day his history must be written; the
material will be found in the memories of people who knew him, not “in
the files”; he is not one the journalists delight to honor.

No one seems to know Galli’s age. He might have been born in 1819--so
many remarkable people were born that year that I often wonder if there
is not something in astrology, after all. When he was young, Galli went
to England with good letters of introduction. He was soon spoken of as a
painter “with the right stuff in him--imagination, ideality, the
artistic temperament,” all the rest of it. As he was a well-bred man,
he had a social as well as an artistic success, and became a fashionable
portrait painter. He played his little part in the fascinating drama of
the London life of his day. It must have been a wonderful time, when all
that was best in the English race came to the surface. Sympathy for
Italy was at its height, the great scheme for the unification was
growing silently and strongly. England, the mighty ally, was helping
Italy prepare for the struggle. Looking back at the England of that day,
one seems to see a whole army of Raleighs spreading their cloaks before
the feet of the young Queen Victoria. All England seems to have shared
in the youth, the hope, the courage of the Queen. With Galli, the
romantic Italian, the universal enthusiasm became personal; he fell in
love, not with the sovereign, but with the woman, which makes all the
difference.

He began to neglect his work, to spend all his time and money in hansom
cabs, pursuing her whenever she went abroad. The police investigated his
case, found him to be harmless and respectable, were content to keep an
eye upon him, until that day when he tried to drive up to the private
entrance of Buckingham Palace where the Queen was living. That was going
too far even for the patience of Scotland Yard. Galli was arrested and
given twenty-four hours to get out of England or into Bedlam. He left
for the continent the same day, came to Rome, hired for his studio an
old building, once the orange house of the Palazzo Borghese. It is built
under a cliff, from the top of which ivy and _madre selva_ (mother of
the wood--we call it clematis) hang over in trailing masses. One day a
large snail from the ivy crawled through a broken pane of the window to
the studio wall, down the wall, and up again, leaving a damp, slimy
track which formed something like the letter V. A friend coming in
surprised Galli standing staring at the wall with open mouth and eyes.

“Why, man, what are you looking at?”

“At the letter.”

“What letter?”

“The royal letter V.”

“What an odd chance!”

“You call it chance”--he smiled mysteriously.

“What do you call it?”

“It is the sign.”

“_Che pazzia_ (What madness)! what do you believe that little animal to
be?”

“I believe what I believe, _amico mio_. The eyes of affection see what
other eyes cannot see. It is a miracle, if you will, not more wonderful
than others. The spirit of my august lady, the sovereign of England, has
taken the shape of _quella lumaca benedetta_ (that blessed snail)!”

Galli tamed the royal snail, kept it in cotton wool and rose-leaves, fed
it on tender green leaves till it died,--when he forgot the whole
matter.

Soon after J. came to Rome as an art student. Galli was “discovered” by
some of the Spanish artists, then the most powerful group of painters in
Rome. For the moment Galli’s only home was a large tree outside the
Porta Salaria. Some boards laid between the branches made his bed; he
shared the tree with a flock of friendly turkeys. He had been fairly
comfortable through the summer and autumn; with December came the fierce
_tramontana_, blowing away the leafy walls of his house. The
artists--they are the most charitable people in the world--clubbed
together, hired a room for Galli in the Via Flaminia--fancy the real old
Flaminian way--and fitted it up nicely as a bedroom and studio. One
bitter winter evening J. and Villegas--they also had studios in the Via
Flaminia--on their way home chanced to look up at his window. Outside on
an iron balcony stood Galli, with nothing on but a thin cotton
nightshirt.

“In the name of Bacchus, what are you doing?” roared the great Villegas,
who had borne a large share of the expense of rescuing Galli from the
turkey roost. Galli nodded, and smiled down upon them.

“_Ombre vivo_,” cried the fiery Spaniard, “go in, or you will take your
death.” Galli only smiled the more and shook his head. The two below
rushed upstairs and dragged him indoors.

“Don’t disturb yourselves, _amici miei_,” Galli explained, “my room, as
you perceive, is cold, my bed has no blankets; I find if I stand out on
the balcony in my shirt for a few moments, my room seems warm afterwards
by comparison.”

Not long after this, Galli came up to J.’s table one night at the Café
Greco (the haunt of artists). “Caro Signorino Jacca, you see many
Americani; they are all immensely rich, as is known to you. For
charity’s sake, sell a picture of mine to one of them.”

The hint was taken, a charming picture of Galli’s was unearthed (a small
Madonna); the purchaser, an American girl, found. The day after the sale
J. went to the Café Greco, where he knew he should find Galli, and with
the inexperience of youth handed him the price of the picture, one
hundred and fifty francs. If ever a poor painter-man needed one hundred
and fifty francs, J. says that it was Galli at that moment. His boots
were so broken that as he walked his toes came in view between the
uppers and the lowers with every step; his trousers were deeply fringed
about the ankle; his shirt was without a collar, he wore his inevitable
long overcoat--buttoned up to conceal what was _not_ under it--and a
shabby silk hat; whatever his fortunes he was never seen in any but a
top hat; J. thinks it was the last trace of the coxcombry of his London
youth.

“_Ecco il denaro_ (Here is the money)!” said J. Galli took it with a
gay, swaggering air:

“_Grazie tante sai? Ci vedremo, caro Jacca_ (So many thanks, till we
meet again).” With that he plunged across the street to the shop of the
King’s hatter opposite in the Corso, where he bought a silk hat of the
latest English model. He next trotted up to the Piazza di Spagna, got
into the first cab on the stand, and engaged all the other cabbies to
follow him: “Drive to the _tomba di Nerone_; you others, do me the favor
to follow.”

The _tomba di Nerone_ is a ruin outside the walls of Rome which the
archæologists say has nothing to do with Nero and never was a tomb.
After they had gone a short distance Galli cried, “Halt.” The procession
stopped short, Galli got out.

“What has happened, _padrone mio_?” asked the cabman.

“Nothing at all; you may now take your place at the end of the cue!” He
dismissed the man with a wave of the hand and got into the second cab.
Riding in this progressive fashion, by the time they reached the _tomba
di Nerone_, Galli had ridden by turn in all the carriages.

“With your help, my friends,” he said to the cabbies, “I will climb to
the top of the tomb;” two of them boosted him up. “If you will listen, I
will tell you some things about the great Nero you never heard before.
He was, after all, an artist; the historians have been too hard upon
him, as we artists ought not to forget.”

Perhaps Galli’s long speech glorifying Nero set the present fashion for
the whitewashing of Cæsars generally! The cabmen squatted round on their
hunkers, smoked their pipes and listened, for the enlightenment of
future _forestieri_--till Galli scrambled down from the rostrum, and
jumped into the first cab, crying,--

“_Andiamo!_ to the Piazza di Spagna, as we came!”

At the Café Greco that evening Galli, penniless but proud of his
adventure, borrowed of Signorino Jacca twenty centesimi (four cents) to
buy a piece of bread and a few pickled gherkins, which he brought back
in a piece of paper and munched contentedly for his supper.

Remembering Galli’s talent for likenesses, J. once persuaded a pretty
young American girl to sit to him for her portrait. When they arrived at
the studio for the first sitting, the room was so littered with rubbish
that there was hardly space to turn round; tiers of vile-smelling old
petroleum cases were piled against the wall. “What on earth have you got
in those boxes, Galli?” J. demanded.

“They contain my invention,” said Galli.

“May one ask its nature?”

“_Altro!_ it is the model of a bridge to cross the Atlantic from Italy
to the United States.”

It was a cold day; to warm the room for his sitter, Galli had picked up
a few bits of charcoal, which smouldered in a frying-pan without a
handle (his only stove) in the middle of the studio. While Galli was
finding a chair for the lady, J. discovered seven rat traps, each
inhabited by a large family of mice.

“They disturbed me so much, scrabbling about and gnawing things,” Galli
explained, “that I was obliged to catch them.”

“If the mice disturb you, why do you keep them? You have not the heart
to kill them? Tell the janitor to put the traps in a pail of water; it
will be over in a minute,” said the practical American girl.

“Drown them--my only companions? See--their beautiful little ears are
veined like the petal of a flower, look at their bright eyes, their dear
little feet.” He held the cage up to the light. “They know me, they
depend upon me for their food!”

He took half a roll--J. says it was half of Galli’s own breakfast--from
his pocket and began crumbling it into one of the traps.

“Show us what you have been painting lately, Signor Galli,” said the
young lady. The old man moved his easel into the light.

“This is my latest picture.”

J. says that American girl showed real breeding; she neither laughed nor
cried at the thing Galli uncovered. If it was not a picture it was the
work of a man of rare imagination. The divine spark had kindled at a
moment when no tools were at hand. His credit on that almost
inexhaustible fund, the generosity of his brother artists, had long been
overdrawn. His friends were tired of supplying canvas, paints, brushes.
Galli lacking everything, possessed only of the idea, could not rest
till it was expressed. He had cut off the tail of his gray flannel
shirt, stretched it for a canvas, found a piece of old blue cardboard,
pasted it on for the sky; he had dried lettuce leaves and applied them
for the middle distance, and used for the detail of the foreground bits
of dried water-melon rind and other such rubbish. The “picture” was a
thing to draw tears from a stone!

The rumor of the invention in the petroleum boxes suggested to some of
the younger artists a plan by which fresh interest might be aroused for
Galli’s benefit. They asked him to prepare a lecture explaining the
theory of his bridge. Tickets were sold and quite a large audience
gathered at the Artists’ Club to hear him. When he appeared some of the
more boisterous spirits began to guy him; this nettled the old fellow:

“You perhaps think this invention of mine an impossibility,” he began.
“To show you how simple it is to get to America without going on one of
those abominable steamers, I will explain to you how to get to the moon.
You all know that the moon is _una femina_ (a female)? Well, all females
are devoured by curiosity. Only let all the people upon the earth
assemble together in one place, and the moon will observe that something
out of the common is going on down here: she will approach nearer and
nearer to see what it is all about, until she gets so near that all we
shall have to do is to jump over on her and then she will not be able to
get away.”

       *       *       *       *       *

[Galli’s last commission was to decorate one of the cheap Roman cafés.
Villegas says that it was a wonderful piece of work, full of power and
originality. Not long after it was finished some smug swine of a painter
(one of those poor craftsmen who have cheapened the name of Italian art)
persuaded the proprietor to let him paint out Galli’s work and
redecorate the café with his own vulgar trash. This broke the old man’s
heart; soon after he was found dead in his studio lying between two
chairs. It was inevitable that he should come to some such end, and a
thousand times better for him to drop in harness than to wear out the
years in idleness. Unlike my friend, the newsboy-rumseller-grandfather
of princes, _his_ only joy was in labor, in striving to express to
others the beauty that possessed his soul. Is it not by this sign that
the elect are known?]



IX

BLACK MAGIC AND WHITE--WITCH’S NIGHT


PALAZZO RUSTICUCCI, ROME, March 16, 1899.

Letters from Maine and New Hampshire give accounts of dreadful freshets
and blizzards. We read them with some surprise, and then go up to the
terrace and pick our pansies and violets. We have some fine spirea and
lilacs coming on fast! The wall flowers are already in bloom, and the
roses make occasional little gifts, but it is far too early for these
dear ones to give their perfect blossoms. Rose week--rose madness--in
Rome comes at the end of April.

The strangest thing about life in Rome is that you not only do as the
Romans do, but end by thinking as the Romans think, feeling as the
Romans feel! Take, for example, the feeling most of the foreign
residents have about the evil eye, the _malocchio_ or _jettatura_, as it
is indifferently called. I never knew an Italian who did not hold to
this superstition more or less. Americans who have lived long in Rome
either reluctantly admit that “there does seem to be something in it,”
or if they are Roman born, quietly accept it as one of those things in
heaven and earth that philosophy fails to take account of. In some
things the Italian is free from superstition compared with the Celt or
the Scot: for instance, the fear of ghosts or spirits is so rare that I
have never met with it; on the other hand, the belief in the value of
dreams as guides to action is deep rooted and widespread. The dreambook
in some families is hardly second in importance to the book of prayer.
The Italian’s eminently practical nature makes him utilize his dreams in
“playing the _lotto_,” as the buying of lottery tickets is called. To
dream of certain things indicates that you will be lucky and should
play. The choice of the number is the chief preoccupation of the
hardened lottery player. It is decided by the oddest chance,--the number
on a banknote which one has lost and found again, the number of a cab
which has brought one home from some delightful festivity. The number
must always be associated with something lucky. I remember in Venice
once calling on a friend who lives in a noble old palace on the Canale
Grande. The _pali_, the dark posts rising out of the green water for
the mooring of gondolas, bear the heraldic colors of the owner of the
palace, and the doge’s cap, showing that the family gave a doge to
Venice. Stepping from my gondola to the water-worn marble stair, I was
helped by one of the servants, an old man with the suave, sympathetic
manners that make the Italians the best servants in the world. I put him
down as a majordomo of the old school whom my friends probably had taken
over with the palace, the library, and the historic murder that goes
with them. I had brought some flowers, which he insisted upon carrying.
He led the way across a square courtyard to an outer stairway with a
wonderful carved marble balustrade, lions rampant at the top and bottom.
Suddenly he stopped and whispered to me:

“Signora,--a thousand excuses for the liberty,--but will you have the
inexpressible gentility to tell me your age?”

The question was so startling that he got the right answer before my
inevitable counter-question, “Why do you wish to know?” which he
pretended not to hear, drowned in a flood of gratitude.

“You have conferred an immense benefit on me. The signora is expecting
you.”

He had my wrap off and the drawing-room door open in a twinkling. That
was not fair play; he had his answer: I would have mine. I put my
question to his mistress. She laughed indulgently.

“Beppino is up to his old tricks. I told him this morning I was
expecting a lady he did not know; he was on the lookout for you. When a
stranger comes to the house for the first time it is the greatest
possible luck to play in the _lotto_ the figures which make up his age.”

Our servants all play regularly, sometimes winning small sums, always
imagining that they will win the _quaterno_. The lottery and the _Monte
di pietà_--somehow one associates them together--are now under
government control, as they were formerly under the control of the
Church. It is assumed as a foregone conclusion that men will gamble,
that men will pawn their goods; therefore it is expedient that these
inevitable concomitants of city life should be administered by the
government, in order that the accruing profits should return to the
people by helping to pay the expenses of their government. The lottery
always appears to me like a tax offered to the citizens in the form of a
gilded pill.

The _Monte di pietà_ seems to be a really beneficent institution; it is
well administered, the percentage charged on the money loaned being as
low as is practicable. Poor old Nena’s coral earrings and gold beads
live there chronically, only appearing upon her small person
periodically on “feast” days. Several times webs of fine linen,
silverware, and other household furnishings have been offered me at so
low a price by one of our clients (we use the old Roman term for the
army of hangers-on which has grown up about us) that I feared to buy
them lest I should be purchasing stolen goods. On investigation I found
the woman’s business was to buy unredeemed pledges at the regular sales
of the Monte, and to hawk them about to private customers. After that I
had not the heart to buy anything she offered, it seemed like building
our house of the driftwood of despair. The Monte is a huge gray palace
occupying a whole square behind the Palazzo Santacroce. Over the main
entrance hangs a life-sized crucifix. The institution was founded in the
year 1539 and has been in operation ever since.

The evolution of Christian out of pagan Rome is not more interesting
than the evolution still going on of Rome the modern capital out of that
picturesque, mediæval Rome of the “forties,” which my mother has
described to me so vividly that it is as if I myself had seen it.

Since we have been here, the old meek horse-cars have been taken off,
and horrible “electrics” whiz by our door and stop at the corner of the
Piazza of St. Peter’s. And--even worse, I am almost afraid to write it
to you--we have a telephone!

A telephone in the Eternal City! In the beginning I was as much shocked
by the idea as you can be. The first conversation over the wire consoled
me. Ice-chests, electric cars, and telephones only bring home more
strongly the feeling that life in Rome is modern, mediæval, and pagan,
all at the same time; it is all here in strata, like the rubbish Signor
Boni is excavating from the Roman Forum. When you first come here you
assume that you must burrow about in ruins and prowl in museums to get
back to the days of Numa Pompilius or Mark Antony. It is not necessary;
you only have to live, and the common happenings of daily life--yes,
even the trolley car and your bicycle--carry you back in turn to the
Dark Ages, to the early Christians, even to prehistoric Rome!

The day our telephone was installed I was called by the ding-a-ling of
the bell, and “_centrale_” put me in communication, not only with our
friend, Mrs. Z----, but with the Rome of Horace and the witch Canidia as
well.

“Can you come to dinner next Monday?” Mrs. Z---- began.

“We will come with leaps and shrieks of joy.”

“Wait; do not accept till you hear who else is coming. We are giving the
dinner in honor of M. de Gooch.”

“So much the better. We like to meet distinguished Frenchmen.”

“You are sure you do not mind meeting this particular Frenchman?”

“Why in the name of common sense should we mind?”

“Well, you know what they say about him?”

“Yes.”

“And you are not afraid? I am positively grateful to you. We are having
the hardest time to fill the eight places at the table.”

“What particular variety of heathen are you inviting?”

“American.”

That afternoon we had a visit from an American gentleman, a friend of
ours and of the Z----’s.

“Shall we meet next Monday at the Z----’s dinner?” I asked in the
course of conversation.

“No, they were good enough to invite me, but I got out of it.”

I stared at him--he is one of the Z----’s greatest friends.

“Yes, the fact is I will not go where I have to meet that man.”

“You? _you_ believe that M. de Gooch has the evil eye?”

“It is all very well for you to look scornful! Just wait a little. I
used to take your point of view, but so many uncomfortable things
happened that I now avoid the man like the plague.”

“What sort of uncomfortable things?”

“We were once at a hotel in Naples. The first time that person--it is
not well to mention his name--came into the dining-room, a waiter
stumbled and dropped a tray full of valuable Venetian glass; every piece
was smashed: the second time, the big chandelier fell down from the
ceiling. That evening the proprietor begged this person to leave the
hotel, said all the other guests would go if he did not, as it was
evident he had the _malocchio_. _Basta!_ let us speak of other things.”

After the visitor left I went up to the terrace to feed the goldfish.
Pompilia was on her knees digging around the roots of the big
honeysuckle. I looked at Soracte, beloved of Horace. Soracte looked at
me.

“Pompilia, do you know any one who has the _malocchio_?” She turned
pale, scrambled to her feet, and made the sign against witchcraft with
the first and fourth finger.

“_Signora mia, che pavra mi ha fatto_ (What a fright you gave me)!” She
reflected a moment: “You remember the _carbonaro_ who used to bring the
charcoal every Saturday? I told you he cheated us; you discharged him.
It was not true, he gave good measure. I do not wish to harm him, but
every time he came into the kitchen some _disgrazia_ happened. The soup
was burned, the milk curdled, or the salt got into the ice-cream.”

“Do you believe the _carbonaro_ wished to injure us? Did he desire to
bring misfortune?”

“It is his misfortune to bring misfortune,” Pompilia reluctantly
explained; “one may even be sorry for him, but one spits as one passes
him, and makes the _corni_ (horns) with the hand behind the back to
avert the _jettatura_. _Ma, Signora mia, per carità, parliamo d’altre
cose_ (For charity’s sake, let us talk of other things)! Observe this
noble tulip, the first to bloom of those Hollandish bulbs we set out in
the autumn.” She feels the flowers to be hers quite as much as ours, as
indeed they are, she is so faithful in caring for them.

We put on all our war-paint for the Z----’s party; so did the other
guests. It was one of the best dinners I have seen in Rome. Everybody
seemed on their mettle to make it go off well. It was put through with
unlimited conversational fireworks and champagne. De Gooch thawed out as
I have never known him to do before; he is usually congealed by the
chilly atmosphere which he, poor man, brings with him. I asked Mr.
Z---- how he accounted for the evil stories. He said:

“Some enemy, who spreads the reports, takes this dreadful way to destroy
him!”

The dinner was so merry that the coming of the coffee instead of being a
relief was a surprise. M. de Gooch after a moment’s hesitation refused
the cup offered him.

“I am rather proud of my coffee, change your mind and try a little,”
said Mrs. Z----.

I was sitting on the other side of De Gooch, and heard him say in a low
voice,--

“Are you sure of your cook?”

“Perfectly; he is a Piedmontese, he has been with us ten years, his
coffee may be trusted.”

Do you know what that meant? It meant that De Gooch is afraid of being
poisoned, that poison is most commonly administered in coffee or
chocolate, _vide_ the Roman idiom, “_Ha bevuto una tazza di cioccolata_
(He has drunk a cup of chocolate).” I asked Mr. Z---- if he believed
anybody wanted to murder De Gooch. He said:

“I do not believe him in more danger of poison than of a lightning
stroke. It is not wonderful, however, that he thinks he is.”

“Is not the _malocchio_ very like the voodoo?” I asked.

“It is a horse of the same color. Both came out of darkest Africa, whose
shadows fall across the broad earth.”

I take back every word I ever said against missionaries!

Poisoning, like other sins, has two degrees, the mortal and the venial.
If M. de Gooch is in no danger from the mortal, we, according to Nena
and Pompilia, were in danger of the venial not so long ago. During a
short absence of Pompilia’s we had a foreign cook, and parted with her
not on the best terms. The day after she left Pompilia returned, coming
to me in the course of the morning with a long list of groceries; those
staples, _farina_, _Parmegiano_, and _caffé_, headed the memorandum.

“But we cannot have used up five kilos of coffee. It is impossible that
we are out of flour and Parmesan cheese; we bought them only three days
ago.”

You see I am getting on, I now manage--though it is highly disapproved
of by the powers that be--to lay in a few groceries, which I buy at the
_Unione Militare_--government stores like the Army and Navy Stores in
London.

“When I returned this morning, there was not a crumb in the house,” said
Pompilia. Nena was appealed to.

“Nena, what about the _Parmegiano_, the _farina_, and the _caffé_ you
bought the other day?”

“Signora, I was obliged to throw them all into the _immondezza_
(garbage).”

“But why?”

“Signora! I say nothing. That black Tedesca, when she left, did not wish
us others well, nor even your signorial selves. I did what I did for the
best.” She looked at Pompilia for confirmation. The cook shook her
handsome head.

“With respect, Nena has done right. I would neither have served on your
table, nor allowed another to touch any food that black German had in
her hands. What bad thing may she not have mixed with it?”

I suppose I looked annoyed at the thought of the good food wasted; they
both eyed me judicially, but firmly.

“Remember, Madama, that you commanded me three times before I would take
that blessed order to the _Unione_,” Nena urged. “I myself knew it was a
waste of money to buy those groceries when the German was leaving so
soon. You asked me the first time Monday, on the stairs; I told you that
the shop shut early on account of a _festa_; you asked me again Tuesday,
upon the terrace (you were potting the large acanthus at the time) if I
had been to the _Unione_; I told you that my rheumatism was too bad for
me to walk so far. You told me for the third time Wednesday, in this
very room, in the presence of the Tedesca, to buy those things! I ask
you, was it possible for me to longer disobey, especially as the Tedesca
heard you give the order?”

Nena is perfectly honest in deed, if not in word; I would trust her with
uncounted money. This was no comedy, such as they often play for my
benefit; I felt the reality of it.

“What sort of bad thing do you mean? Poison?” I blurted out with the
coarse Anglo-Saxon instinct of calling a spade a spade. Such brusqueness
hurts the subtler Latin nature. “Signora! I make no charges. I would not
say poison, no, but something that might make one very ill for a day or
for an hour; how do I know?”

They got away as soon as they could; we have not spoken of the matter
since. The next time I was at the Vatican I dropped into the Sala
Borgia, and took a good look at the charming portrait of Lucrezia
Borgia, by Pinturicchio, filled with a realizing sense that the Rome of
the Borgias was not so far away from my Rome as I had formerly supposed.

It is hard for us to realize the deadly significance to an Italian of
the suggestion that one may have the evil eye. I was walking one day
with a young American girl to whom I had been unfolding some of the
tragedies I have known connected with the superstition. She took it all
lightly and joyously, after the manner of her kind; and later during our
walk, when a saucy, tormenting beggar pursued us, she made the sign of
the _corni_ as I had described it to her, shaking the hand slightly,
with the first and fourth finger extended. Then the beggar became
convulsed with anger and seemed almost beside herself, shrieking out
such a torrent of abuse that we were glad to jump into a cab and fly
from the wrath to come. The poor creature was not to be blamed: she knew
that once the shadow of suspicion falls, it means social
excommunication, banishment outside the pale of whatever society one
belongs to--a thing, like illness or death, as much to be dreaded by the
pauper as by the Pope. Many people, by the way, believed that Pius IX
had the evil eye, and made the sign of the _corni_ behind hat or fan as
they received his benediction in front of St. Peter’s. The Romans
generally are not supposed to be as superstitious as the Neapolitans. In
Naples most people wear, as a charm, a little hand of gold, coral, or
mother of pearl, with the fingers in the attitude to avert evil. Even
the horses wear horns upon their harnesses! Some of our Roman friends
are not without faith in the efficacy of horns. One day, when my painter
had occasion to go behind the big canvases in his studio, he found that
an artist who had dropped in during his absence had drawn horns with a
bit of charcoal all over the backs of his pictures. Later, when the work
was finished and the Queen came to the studio to see it, the friend
claimed some of the credit for the royal visit.

“You owe all your luck to my horns,” he said, half in fun, half in
earnest.


June 24, 1899.

Last night was St. John’s eve. I gave Pompilia and Filomena a holiday,
meaning to take the opportunity to get rid, with Nena’s aid, of some of
the year’s accumulation of worn-out kitchen utensils. Pompilia is very
obstinate about giving up such things; she must have had

[Illustration: _A Lost Love_

From a red chalk drawing in the Collection of Mr. Thomas W. Lawson]

[Illustration: Copyright, 1900, by John Elliott.

From a Copley Print. Copyright, 1901, by Curtis & Cameron, Publishers,
Boston.]

a rag-and-bottle man for an ancestor. Nena, who sells every conceivable
bit of trash I give her, aids and abets me in these acts of
insubordination. She was not in her usual spirits. I heard her scolding
the little Jew boy who brought home an old terra-cotta cinerary urn we
had bought in the morning from his mother Sora Giulia.

“What dirty _robaccia_ do you bring into this clean house?” she demanded
in her gruff sailor’s voice.

“_Cosa ne so io?_ the signori bought it to-day. I heard my father say it
once contained the ashes of a soldier of the Pretorian guard.”

“What guard?”

“Of the old time, a hundred years ago, maybe; they were like the
_carabinieri_.”

Nena took the urn, grumbling under her breath, “_Li mortacci tuoi_ (Your
miserable dead)!”

“_Hein?_ what did you say?”

“_Va a mori ammazzato_ (Go and die killed)!” She slammed the door upon
him.

A minute later she brought the urn into the den and put it carefully
down on the table where I was writing. “That rascally boy of Sora
Giulia’s brought this home.”

“You formerly were friendly with Sora Giulia.”

She wiped her eyes with a little red wrinkled hand that trembled;
something troubled her seriously.

“What has happened? tell me frankly.”

She began to cry openly: “_Miché_ (the cat) has been gone three days; he
will never return. I shall not again see that dear animal!”

“_Miché_ will come back; perhaps he has had a fight, as he did once
before.”

“No, no, Signora! then he was only absent one night, after the manner of
cats. No, _era troppo bello, era troppo bello_ (he was too beautiful),”
she wailed. I suppose I looked as puzzled as I felt, for she broke into
impassioned explanations. “He was too beautiful, he was fat and tender
as well; _quelli maladetti Ebrei_ (those cursed Jews) have killed him to
make one of their accursed feasts; they have doubtless already eaten
him; _povera bestia, era troppo bello_!”

To console her I proposed that we get to work on the business before us.
In a closet on the stairs, of which Nena has a duplicate key, Pompilia
had locked up empty green wicker _ricotta_ baskets, marmalade bottles,
petroleum cans, a pair of discarded brooms, and other such rubbish.

“Can you sell the petroleum cans?”

“_Ma certo_, I get a _paulo_ (ten cents apiece) for them. The poor use
them for flower pots and for many other things.”

“And these old brooms, can you get anything for them?”

“The brooms I shall not sell. It would offend the _scoparo_, who is my
friend and has a family to support; but as we happen to be in need of
them, I will, with your permission, take these brooms home.”

“All the articles in this closet are yours, and welcome, on condition
you take them away this evening. It is known to you that if Pompilia
were here she would never let them go.”

“You have reason, Signora; I will go immediately, taking with me all I
can carry and returning for the rest.”

After she left I went up to the terrace for the sunset. The swallows
were swooping low overhead; the smell of the gardenias would have been
overpowering indoors; the passion flower vine was in full bloom, the
oleanders ablaze with tender pink blossoms the same color as the sky. As
I was mooning about, leaning on the parapet and watching the blue fade
out of Peter’s dome, I became aware of a hubbub in the street below.
There were cries of “_Una strega, una strega_ (A witch, a witch),”
“_Scacciala, scacciala_ (Chase her, chase her),” hoots of derision,
screams of laughter.

“How she runs! _Brava vecchiarella_ (Good for you, old woman)!”

“_Viliacchi_ (Cowards)!”

The noise grew nearer, the crowd seemed to be stopping at our _portone_.

“_Che te possono scanna_ (May you be slaughtered)!” The deep bass voice
was familiar. I leaned over the parapet just in time to see Nena, a tiny
figure, with two brooms over her shoulder, turn and hurl defiance at her
tormentors, in the front rank of whom I recognized the little Jew boy.

“_Guastate_ (May you waste away)! “With this true witch’s curse Nena
managed to shut the door of the big _portone_ in the faces of her
pursuers. I ran and opened the old green door of the apartment to let
her in.

“What in the name of the apostles has happened?”

Nena was trembling with passion.

“Ah, that Hebrew Jew! I will punish him yet. He led the others on,
saying I was a witch. Truly, Signora, it was not a happy chance that
made you give me those brooms to take home this particular evening, the
night on which the ignorant and superstitious believe that the witches
ride. In every other house in the Borgo a dish of salt and a broom are
placed outside the window, that the witches may be averted from entering
and fly away on the broomstick. Doubtless Pompilia saved these brooms
for that object--but, as you know, I am not superstitious, I don’t
believe such stuff. To take me for a witch, _me_!”

Nena cannot be more than four feet seven inches high; she has a rough
gray head, sharp black eyes, and a long nose. She wears a queer,
old-fashioned three-cornered shawl over her stooping shoulders, her feet
swim about in a pair of my old boots. There was, I confess, some excuse
for the jest!

St. John’s eve! Witch’s night! In order that no harm may befall one, it
is safest to sit up all night. To sit up all night alone, or in the
company of one’s family, is rather cold comfort; so the sociable Romans
spend the night in one vast nocturnal picnic. We left home at ten
o’clock; in the Piazza Scossa Cavalli we found every cab gone except the
_gobbo’s_ (hunchback’s). This was great luck, to be driven by the
_gobbo_, all the more as it was by chance; if we had engaged him
beforehand, it would not have counted. As soon as we started J. sneezed.

“_Salute, Signore_ (Your health, sir,--the equivalent of ‘Bless you’),”
said the _gobbo_. This meant more luck. By the time we reached the Via
Merulana the _gobbo’s_ white horse--a white horse is lucky--dropped into
a walk. The crowd of cabs was so great that from there on to the Piazza
San Giovanni we were obliged to move at a snail’s pace.

“_Volete spigo, Signori?_” cried a vendor, thrusting a bunch of lavender
into the cab.

“_Bisogna prenderla, Signori_,” said the _gobbo_; “you must buy lavender
for yourself, for me, even for my poor beast. It is the rule to wear
lavender on St. John’s eve.” We bought lavender for the party, the white
horse included.

A little farther on another vendor stopped us.

“How is this?” he said gravely; “you are without red carnations; that is
not well.”

“He is right, Signori,” said the _gobbo_; “we must wear red carnations
as well as lavender.”

We bought enough red carnations for an army.

“What do the lavender and the carnations signify?”

“Who knows, Signora? it is the custom to wear them. One says it brings
_buona fortuna_, another that it keeps the witches away; it is well to
be on the safe side.”

As the cab came to a dead stop for a moment outside a _trattoria_, a
saucy boy sprang on the step and asked for a _soldo_ to buy a dish of
snails.

“Do not refuse,” said the _gobbo_; “he is a good boy; it is the custom
on the eve of San Giovanni to eat snails and _polenta_, as you may see
for yourselves.”

Over the door of the _trattoria_ hung an illuminated transparency: on
one side was a picture of a large snail, on the other a witch riding a
broomstick.

“_Aglo, Aglo_ (Garlic). Who wants _aglo_? There is nothing so good
against the _fascino_ (fascination) as _aglo_!”

We bought a pair of long-stemmed garlic blossoms, in shape not unlike
the classic thyrsus.

“_Campanelle, campanelle_, who wants the _campanelle_? The witches fly
away at the sound of these marvellous _campanelle_.”

Everybody but ourselves had apparently already bought _campanelle_; all
the people in the carriages and on the sidewalk carried these small
terra-cotta bells, which they rang violently at each other and at the
witches. The bells were of two sizes.

“Buy a large one for yourself, Signore, and a small one for the lady,”
counselled the _gobbo_.

“And one for you and one for the mare?”

“Naturally. The animal cannot well spare a hand to ring her
_campanello_, so we will tie it about her neck.”

Peacock feathers were next offered; the _gobbo_ was prejudiced against
them and advised us not to buy them. There seems to be a divided feeling
about peacocks’ feathers; some people hold that they bring bad luck,
others that they avert it.

We left the carriage at the piazza, which was lined with booths,
illuminated with flaring torches. These stalls extend quite a distance
down the Via Appia Nuova, outside Porta San Giovanni. Some displayed the
classic bush, from the earliest time the sign of the wine shop. Outside
one of the most important booths hung a large painted head of the wine
god crowned with leaves, bearing the words, “_A Baccho_.” At some stalls
fried pancakes and _gnocchi di patate_ were sold. _Gnocchi_ is one of
the delicious Roman dishes. It is made of potatoes and corn meal,
bewitched together into miniature oval croquettes, and served with a
rich sauce of tomato conserve and Parmesan cheese; truly a dish fit for
the gods. Near the _gnocchi_ booth was a stall hung with evergreens,
where a man in white linen clothes and cap stood beside an enormous
roasted hog, brandishing a huge knife.

“_Majale arosto--ah che bel majale_ (Roast pig--oh, what a beautiful
pig).”

At some of the stands toys and dolls were sold. I was kept away from
certain of these, as J. said the toys were shockingly indecent; those I
saw were ordinary every-day toys which the elders bought for the
children. When one goes to the _festa_ of San Giovanni one takes the
whole family along,--grandmothers, grandfathers, babies, and all. The
noisy people were all gathered together in the piazza and the Via Appia
Nuova; the quieter sort were scattered about in groups on the outskirts
of the crowd. On the right-hand side, at a little distance from the
Church of St. John Lateran, there is a hillside with ancient ilex trees.
This dark hillside was dotted with torches and candles, each the centre
of a knot of people. We soon left the turmoil in the neighborhood of
the booths, and strayed about among the quieter folks. Under a dark
gnarled tree a group of people had made themselves comfortable. On the
trunk above their heads two long garlic stalks were nailed crosswise to
avert evil. Directly below the cross sat a lovely young woman suckling a
large baby; it must have been eighteen months old. Beside her an aged
woman held in her lap a four-year-old child whose chubby hands were
stretched out to touch the nursling; in the shadow behind stood a grave
bearded man. The huckster’s cart that had brought them was drawn up near
by, the donkey could be dimly seen munching a bundle of hay.

“Behold Mary and the Child, St. Elizabeth and St. John, with the good
St. Joseph taking care of them all,” said Vincenzo, who had seen us and
followed us up from the piazza. As we stood entranced before this living
Holy Family the moon rose full and yellow over the dark hillside; for a
moment we saw it behind the head of that young mother like a halo. It
was a group worthy the pencil of Raphael.

“_Che belli fanciulli_ (What beautiful children),” I said to Vincenzo.
St. Elizabeth, hearing the innocent words, caught the little St. John
behind her, scowling and muttering angrily at me.

“Come away, quickly,” said Vincenzo, urging me down the hill; “don’t you
know that you must never praise a child in that way of all times on the
night of San Giovanni!”

“It is time to go home,” said J. I begged a few minutes’ grace, for just
at that moment a heavy car hung with laurel garlands drawn by milk-white
oxen with gilded horns creaked into the piazza. The car was filled with
young men in costume singing to the music of guitar and mandolin. They
were all masked; from the trappings of the car and their cultivated
voices we fancied them to be persons of some distinction.

A high tenor voice pierced the babel of sound: “_Sei la Rosa piu bella
che c’è_ (Thou art the most beautiful rose that is)!”

It was near midnight: the fun was growing fast and furious. J., who from
the first had objected to the expedition, backed up by Vincenzo, now
declared that it was impossible for me to stay longer. An unwilling
Cinderella, I was torn away on the stroke of twelve. “It is not a seemly
revel,” I was told; “dreadful things happen, respectable people do not
stay after midnight.” To me it was all a wonderful revelation; I was in
pagan Rome, where Bacchus and Vesta were worshipped, where Italy’s
spoiled children, the Roman populace, took their pleasure, as they have
done with little change ever since Rome was, since “step bread” was
distributed gratis on the steps of the Capitol, and the costly games of
the Colosseum kept them amused and pacific!

Till broad daylight I heard the people coming home ringing their little
terra-cotta bells, singing sntches of the song of the evening: “_Sei la
Rosa piu bella che c’è._” As I look back at that riot of youth and age,
where the faces of faun and satyr leered at nymph and dryad, the whole
pagan scene is sweetened and purified by that vision of the Holy
Family.



X

ISCHIA


CASAMICCIOLA, ISLAND OF ISCHIA, July 10, 1899.

Our coming to this volcanic islet--tossed up out of the sea an æon ago,
still warm with the earth’s vital heat--was due to chance, like most
things that are worth while. We had driven over that morning from
Sorrento to Castellamare through odorous orange and lemon groves, and
were so filled with the beauty of land and sea, that going to any city,
even to our Rome, seemed a waste of life. We reluctantly boarded the
crowded train for Naples. In the same carriage were a _mercante di
campagna_ and his daughter, the most lovely Italian girl I ever saw. Her
hair clustered in purple shadowed masses like bunches of grapes about
her perfect face; her complexion was golden and red--no pink and white
prettiness, but a rich and memorable beauty. They had left home early;
to have more time in the city, they partook of their breakfast, Bologna
sausage, bread, garlic, and wine on the train. They were so friendly
that we forgave them everything--even their fourteen bundles which
entirely filled the luggage rack--even their garlic! The father opened
the conversation.

“My son, he is in America; he worked on the Brooklyner Bridger. You have
seen it, yes?”

“We have seen it many times, we have even crossed it.”

This brought us all very near together. Putting his hand into his pocket
the _mercante di campagna_ brought out a fistful of rice, which he
presented to me.

“Behold a sample of the rice I am taking to Naples to sell.”

Not knowing exactly what else to do with it, I tied the rice in a corner
of my pocket handkerchief. He next handed me the _Corriere di Napoli_,
two days old. The first thing in the newspaper that caught my eye was an
advertisement of the _Società Napoletana di Navigazione a Vapore_. “The
steamer for Ischia sails at eleven o’clock; return tickets eight
francs.”

We were due in Naples at ten, the train for Rome left at three! Five
hours in Naples, which has for us but three resources: the museum, the
aquarium, the antiquarians! It was the day

[Illustration: _Ischia_

From a photograph]

[Illustration]

of Sts. Peter and Paul, a national holiday--that meant the museum would
be closed; we know every fish in the great aquarium, the finest in the
world. Do we not always go there? did we not spend two hours there on
our way down, pay to see the awful octopus fed, and to receive a shock
from the electric fish? A visit to the antiquarians for some varieties
of junk even more enticing than our Roman haunts would cost us more than
eight francs.

Ischia! The name set vibrating a deep chord of memory. O Edward Lear,
Edward Lear, you are responsible for many vagarious wanderings! I could
think of nothing but the picture in the Nonsense Book of the old person
of Ischia. Is he still growing friskier and friskier? still dancing
jigs, eating figs?

“Have you ever been to Ischia?” I asked the _mercante di campagna_.

“Frankly, the sea incommodes me too much to make the voyage; but I have
a brother who drives a cab at Casamicciola. The signori should not fail
to visit the island,” he said.

The girl smiled encouragement. “This is just the season for the baths,”
she said; “they are miraculous for rheumatism, gout, every kind of
lameness. When they went there Olivetta, the wife of my uncle Ercole,
could not walk at all--_adesso, corre com’un diavolo_ (now she runs like
a devil).”

“_Pur troppo_ (Altogether too much)!” grumbled the _mercante_, just like
any other brother-in-law.

“The signori will employ my uncle Ercole? he drives a piebald horse.
They will give the uncle and aunt _tanti saluti_ from me?” the beauty
persisted.

Her influence, combined with Edward Lear’s, was too strong to resist.
Rome is always there; it was now or never for Ischia!

We caught the little steamer which carried us steadily enough across the
Bay of Naples. The shores were a living panorama done in sapphire and
emerald. Fishing smacks with slanting lateen sails colored, discolored,
one with a picture of Maria Stella del Mare painted upon it, flitted by
us before the light breeze. The steamer had once been a private yacht;
though her brasses are neglected and her deck less like polished satin
than it must have been in her palmy days, she still has a sporting,
rakish air, in keeping with our escapade. We passed Procida, a shining
isle of beauty, where I was half tempted to land and search for the
enchanted princess who must inhabit it!

We landed at Casamicciola in a small boat. The patient women waiting on
the quay took our trunks on their heads, the cabmen mobbed us politely,
trying to wrest our hand-bags from us.

“Ercole!” cried J. “Is Ercole, he who drives a piebald horse, among
you?”

“_Ecco mi quà, Signor Marchese_ (Behold me here, Lord Marquis)!” Ercole
(Hercules) scarcely looks his part. He is small and wizened, but he has
the merry eyes of his brother, the _mercante di campagna_, while his
laugh oddly recalls his lovely niece’s. From the beginning Ercole took
and still keeps possession of us. “First to the Piccola Sentinella,” he
announced. The piebald breasted the steep hill at a sharp pace. Ten
minutes’ climb brought us to the Hotel of the Small Sentinel, a low
building with a roof of light corrugated iron. Most of the hotels in
southern Italy are old palaces or monasteries, heavily built of stone or
stucco. Madam Dombré, the proprietress (she is an Englishwoman and makes
us exceedingly comfortable), says that all the buildings put up on the
island since the earthquake have been constructed under government
supervision and are lightly built like the hotel. Everything here dates
from the earthquake. Ercole says such a thing took place before the
_terremoto_, or so many years after it. Mme. Dombré, whose daughter was
killed by it, speaks as if it happened yesterday.

“There was a concert in the dining-room of our hotel at the time, it was
on the 28th of July, 1883, mid-season, you know; the house was full.
There came a dreadful rumbling noise. The house shook once, twice,
sideways, and then came crashing down in a ruined heap. The pianist at
the piano, the singer with the song on her lips, were dashed into
Purgatory without an instant’s warning! Out of a population of
thirty-five hundred, seventeen hundred of our people perished in the
earthquake.”

Since that time Casamicciola has been almost deserted by foreigners who
are now only just beginning to return; a few more come each year.

The morning after our arrival Ercole drove me willy-nilly to the
_stabilimento_, as they call the baths. Somehow he had divined the heel
of Achilles,--my bicycle ankle. The smiling _medico_ agreed with him
that the treatment was “indicated,” and forthwith delivered me over into
the hands of Olivetta--she who once was lame and now runs like a devil.
The baths are large, not so smartly appointed as some of the German
establishments, such as Homburg or Ems, yet they have a certain
classical flavor of architecture, pleasantly suggestive of the old Greek
inhabitants who were driven away from the island (they called it
Pithecusa) in the fifth century B.C. by the fearful eruptions of Mt.
Epomeo. Olivetta led me to a small marble room, put me in a comfortable
chair, placed the offending ankle on a bench, and bade me “_abbia
pazienza_ (have patience),” while she went to get the “_fango_.” In five
minutes she returned, bringing a jar full of liquid gray clay very like
what sculptors use.

“_Guardi, questo fango viene proprio caldo dalle viscere della terra_
(Observe, this mud comes hot from the entrails of the earth).” The giant
Typhoëus, transfixed by Zeus’s thunderbolt, lies chained under the
island; the roar of the earthquake is his voice, the lava flood his
tears. You may believe it or not: I do not find it difficult to accept.
Poor old giant, I feel sorry for him, reduced to tending hospital
fires, to warming up poultices for the gouty!

Olivetta built a sort of mould of hot clay wherein the foot was
comfortably coddled for thirty minutes. She next gave it a hot douche
for five minutes, then left me to meditate for another thirty minutes in
a warm mineral bath which smelt of hot flat-irons.

The serious business of the day over, we were free to explore the
country. Ercole and the piebald took us for a nineteen-mile drive around
the island, which rises sharply from the sea to its highest point, Mt.
Epomeo. The vineyards wrap Ischia from seashore to mountain peak in a
shimmering screen of green. The vines hang from tree to tree, making a
leafy roof overhead and green sun-pierced walls to the long alleys,
where innumerable classic bunches are slowly ripening. The grapes are
still small and immature, but exquisite in form and color. In October,
the season of the vintage, this must be the most beautiful place on
earth. Here one understands why the Roman soldiers in Britain, when they
first saw the Kentish hop vines, thought they had found the nearest
thing to the grape that savage northland produced. In their efforts to
make wine from hops they produced the first beer made in England.

On our way home we met a pair of boys driving a donkey laden with the
coarse gray pottery which has been made here since the days of the
Romans. The _creta_ (gray clay) from which it is made, looks very like
the mud used at the _stabilimento_. We stopped to examine the mugs, the
jugs, the donkey, and his astonishing garments.

“Behold, Madama, _l’asino del colonello_!” said Ercole.

“Who is the colonel?”

“_Un gran signore, un Inglese._ He comes here every year for the baths.”

“What can a _gran signore_ do with this poor little animal?”

“He protects it. When he first saw this donkey, the poor beast being
much afflicted with sores, was sadly tormented by flies. The _colonello_
taking pity upon it provided pantaloons--two pair; a pair for the hind
legs, a pair for the fore legs, as you perceive. He also pays the boys
two francs a month to treat the creature well; he provides petroleum to
bathe its sores, and now and again orders it a sea bath. It is his
idea. He may be right. How do I know? With respect, the soul of his
grandmother may have entered the body of that ass.”

A little further on Ercole drew up the piebald again.

“Behold other of the _colonello’s_ beneficiaries,” he said. Two tiny
dwarfs saluted us, asking with Ischian gentleness for alms. There was no
whine to their voices, no consciousness of degradation, nothing of that
brazen effrontery of the Neapolitan beggar, which makes one despair of
the regeneration of the Neapolitan “submerged tenth”!

“_Sono buoni ed onesti_ (They are good and honest),” said Ercole, adding
a soldo from his own pocket to what J. gave them.

“They are called Pasquale and Restituta. It is only a few years that
they have been obliged to beg. They worked at their trades--he at brick
making, she at straw braiding; they are past working now. They are not
very old, but such people have little vigor. I remember their wedding.
All the town was there, the _sindaco_ and the schoolmaster as well. We
all gave something for their housekeeping, one a goat, one a pair of
fowls, one a piece of furniture. If you could have seen their little
marriage-bed, _Signora mia_, it was like a doll’s bed.”

We drove along for another mile or two, passed the straw factory, where
we were obliged to buy some ugly fans, out of respect to Ercole’s views.
On the Marina he stopped again to let us see “_Il Fungo_,” a big
mushroom-shaped rock in the sea. The setting sun touched Procida into an
unearthly beauty, it shone like the golden city of Jerusalem.

“There is Teodora!” said Ercole, pointing with his whip to a group of
sailors sitting on the bottom of an overturned boat. In their midst sat
a strange figure mending a net.

“You see that old woman sewing? She is a deaf-mute, and she believes
that she is a man. If it were true it would be miraculous, _perché ha
fatto una figlia_ (because she has “made” a daughter). She avoids all
women, spends all her time with the fishermen. As she cannot talk and
mends their nets for them--they do not object.”

Teodora laid down the long black cigar she was smoking and took off her
hat to us. Save for a short dark skirt she was dressed like a man.

“It is against the law for a woman to wear pantaloons,” Ercole
explained.

“But not for asses or men?”

Ercole laughed immoderately--part of his pleasant flattery.

We made the ascent of Mt. Epomeo; after completing the course of eleven
baths, we wished to put to the test what they had done for me. We drove
to Fontana, taking our luncheon with us--why do things taste best out of
a basket? We left Ercole and the piebald at the inn and climbed to the
summit of the extinct volcano where there is a curious hermitage
dedicated to St. Nicola cut out of the volcanic tufa rock. The view from
here is not so fine as it is half way up the mountain. It is rather too
much like looking down upon a dissected map, but it does give one a
wonderful geographical sensation, fixes the relations between the
Sorrentine peninsula, Vesuvius, the islands of the Sirens, Capri, the
promontory of Circeo (where Circe lived), Procida the golden, and the
other points of this earthly paradise, between Terracina on the north
and the Punta di Campanella on the south. We were helped to orient
ourselves by Lucia, a “lady guide,” who joined us half way up the
mountain. She is a handsome old woman with wild white hair, bright blue
eyes, and a shrewd peasant face. She hailed me at sight as an American.

“How do you know that I am not English?” I asked.

“I can always recognize the _Americani, Signora mia_.”

“By what sign do you know us?” I asked.

“By the expression of the countenance.”

When I first came to Italy I should have scoffed at this; now I have
lived away from home so long that I too recognize the American
expression,--nervous, sensitive, masterful,--the Look Dominant!

“_Si vede Procida, La Spagna, io veggio a te!_” Lucia crooned a stave of
the old Neapolitan song, Funiculi Funicula, in a cracked voice.

“Yes, yes, I know both _Americani ed Inglesi_; my daughter’s husband is
an _Inglese_.”

“Where did she meet him?”

“Here on Mt. Epomeo, where else? _Una bella ragazza_ (She was a pretty
girl)! You may not believe it, Signori, but there is no difference
between my daughter and me save a matter of fifteen years. At fifty she
is just what I was,--at sixteen she was her mother over again. You would
not think it, eh? Well, one can speak about it, now that one is so old.
She was called the most beautiful girl in all Ischia. How do I know if
it was true? I could not think so, you see, because she was myself over
again, and I never saw any difference between myself and the other
girls.”

“I hope your daughter has a good husband.”

“_Grazie a Dio_, a good husband, yes, yes, a good husband.”

“Who was that pretty girl at the inn down at Fontana?” J. asked.

“_Bella? quella ragazza? faccia di patate_ (Pretty? that girl? a potato
face)! Ai! if you could have seen my Eva! The Madonna herself was not
more beautiful. That girl, the innkeeper’s daughter, is as awkward as a
cow, and she squints besides, as her mother did before her.”

“_No, no_,” J. protested; “_è un bel pezzo di donna_ (she is a fine
piece of a woman).”

Lucia gave him a keen look. “The signore should not laugh at the poor
girl. _Il buon Dio_ does not give a handsome face to every woman.”

“Fortunately, for the peace of the world, that is true.”

“But the signore is an artist? one sees that from his manner of looking
at things. Well, if the innkeeper’s Anna is a pretty girl, call me a
_bruttona_ (big ugly thing). If my daughter had not been out of the
common, do you think a rich gentleman would have married her? Yes, yes,
I am telling you the truth. She does no work, they live in a palazzo, my
daughter has servants to wait on her, do you believe it? she does not
even comb her own hair! And she has jewels, such diamonds! For every
child she gives him, he gives her a great pearl, each bigger than the
last.”

“How many children have they?”

“_Ha fatto quattro maschi e tre femmine_ (She has borne four males and
three females), all straight and well formed. The youngest is Lucia, for
the poor old _nonna_ (grandmother) at Ischia.”

“Where do they live?”

She pointed across the sea. “What do I know of foreign countries? I am
of the island. Here I was born, here I shall die.”

“You must be very proud of your grandchildren.” This is always a safe
remark.

“_Ha ragione, eccellenza, guardi_ (You are right, excellency, observe),
I am only a poor _ignorante_, but I made the great _matrimonio_ for my
daughter. Eva was always here with me, upon the flanks of Epomeo,
guiding the foreigners, but for me she would be here still, as my mother
and her mother before her were here. In those days before the
_terremoto_ many strangers came to Epomeo. From the first moment the
young _Inglese_ saw the girl he was _innamorato_. He came every day, he
pretended to sketch the mountain. I knew he was no artist; why, any one
could see he was _un gran signore_ by the way he spent his money. One
day he asked leave to paint my daughter. I said, ’_Scuse, Signore_, you
are a rich gentleman, I am only a beggar, _ma io sono padrona della mia
figlivola_ (I am the mistress of my little daughter). The day Eva takes
a husband he will be _padrone_; till that time, _scusi, Signore, ma sono
padrona io_!’ Would you believe it? a week from that day Eva and the
_Inglese_ were married by the priest who married her father and mother
and who gave her the holy rite of baptism.”

Sing me a song of the wisdom of old women!

I was bent upon exploring the hermitage, in spite of Lucia. The hermit
has departed the way of hermits and others. In his stead reigns Orlando,
a cross old man, between whom and Lucia there is war to the knife.

“Their excellencies are not going down without seeing the hermitage?” he
whined.

“Certainly not,” J. assured him.

“Do not go in; it is a dirty hole, and there is nothing to see,”
whispered Lucia, catching me by the sleeve.

“That silly old woman is tiring out the lady,” said Orlando to J.;
“drive her away, she is a pest.” As I put my foot on the lowest step of
the rough-hewn rock stairway leading to the hermitage, Lucia fell back
and said no more. I was evidently out of her domain and in the enemy’s
territory. As she had said, there was little to see in the two rooms cut
out of the living rock. Orlando’s bed, a pile of straw, occupied the
outer room, the inner cell served as his kitchen and larder. He offered
bread and wine; we were firm in refusing refreshment; his feelings were
soothed by a _mancia_, and by telling him we should come again and take
his photograph (our kodak had been forgotten).

“The next time their excellencies come they must not let that old
_chiacchierone_ (gossip) hang on to them. She pesters the travellers so
with her talk that she frightens them away. Truly you will find it set
down in the red book of the strangers (Baedeker) that a guide is
unnecessary, though a few _soldi_ are due to the person living in the
hermitage, who is ready and able to explain intelligently the view and
the locality.”

At the foot of the steps Lucia again took us in charge, after an
exchange of malevolent glances with Orlando.

“_Stregona_ (Big old witch),” Orlando muttered.

“_Birbacaione_ (Big rogue),” mumbled Lucia.

She came down with us as far as the cab.

“_Addio, eccellenza, e mille grazie._”

“_Addio_, Lucia, and thanks to you.” At the turn of the road we looked
back and saw the strong, bent little woman leaning against the wall,
waiting to guide the next _forestieri_ who might turn up.

“Is it true what Lucia tells us about her daughter?” I asked Ercole.

“Who knows? these old women gossip to amuse strangers. There is a new
story for every day in the week. We must not believe everything that we
hear.”

Was Ercole jealous, too?

The next time I saw Olivetta she began to chatter about Lucia.

“She told you about her daughter? Yes? It is quite true. The girl
caught the fancy of a rich milord, and he married her. One thing I am
sure Lucia did not tell you. Her son-in-law has bought her a nice
cottage, the best house in Fontana, he gives her a handsome income;
truly, Lucia is rich, but she is avaricious. I ask you, does she not
look like a beggar? That is all a comedy; she has good clothes and
shoes. Truly, I should not be surprised if, when she dies, we should
find that Lucia is the richest woman in Ischia; it is a shame that she
should ask money from the strangers.”

“Perhaps it is not the money so much as the occupation Lucia likes,” I
suggested.

“_Ma ché_, she is robbing others who would gladly take her place. There
is the excellent Orlando, he is my relation. Poor man, he is lame and
cannot work. As long as Lucia remains there is no chance for another
guide; _è fina quella donna_ (she is a sharp one, that woman). Ask the
_colonello_,--he can tell you all about Lucia and her daughter.”

The _colonello_, protector of the poor and purveyor of pantaloons to
suffering donkeys, is at this hotel. He is a delightful, warm-blooded
creature, who cannot be quite comfortable unless everybody else in
sight--even an ass--is comfortable too. Like the others, he had a great
deal to say about Lucia; of all the personages we have met--the place is
full of personages--she seems to have the most marked character.

“Gad, sir, the old woman is right,” said the colonel. “The day she goes
out of the guide business she will go to pieces. Why should she give up
her job because her daughter has married into another sphere? I’m d--d
if I don’t like her spirit!”

“What is the daughter like?” I asked.

“She is a good sort,” said the colonel. “When her husband took her to
his mother’s house, what do you suppose they did with her? sent her to
school, had her taught like a child. She learned many things, how to
talk small talk, how to behave at table, how to dress and all the rest
of it. When they thought she had learned enough she came home to her
husband. He gave a great dinner to introduce her to his family--oh, they
all acted sensibly. The bride behaved very nicely and quietly, they all
liked her for her pretty manners (you know the people hereabouts have
excellent manners, better than half the aristocracy at home, I tell
them) as well as for her remarkable beauty; she must have been worth
seeing in those days. After the dinner was over and the guests had left
the dining-room, the husband coming back for something found his wife
going round the table collecting the ends of the cigars the men had left
on their plates.

“‘What on earth do you want with those nasty things?’ he asked.

“‘I shall send them to my poor old father at Ischia!’

“She had been in the habit of picking up the ends of the travellers’
cigars for the old man. Do you wonder that she has made a good wife and
mother? I tell you she has a good heart; if a woman has that, what else
matters?”

When we made our second trip to Epomeo to keep faith with Orlando, Lucia
was nowhere visible; we made the ascent without her. Orlando held
undisputed possession of Epomeo.

“Where is your friend Lucia?” we asked.

He fairly spluttered, “_Una vecchiarella stupida senza educazione_ (A
stupid old woman without education)! Do you know what I believe? I
believe that her daughter and son-in-law are in Ischia. When they are on
the island, Lucia sits all day at her window dressed in her Sunday
clothes. To see her you would never fancy that she was the guide to Mt.
Epomeo--not that there is any need of a guide, as you yourselves
perceive.”

On our way through Fontana we passed a neat cottage, caught a whiff of
fragrance of oleanders in the garden, a glimpse of an old woman sitting
bolt upright in an armchair, a flash from her sharp blue eyes. It was
Lucia, our little old guide, her wild hair neatly coifed by a peasant
cap; she sat up as if she were sitting for her photograph, stiff,
uncomfortable, wretched in her finery.

That night at the hotel an interesting couple who had arrived since the
morning sat opposite to us at dinner; a tall, silent man who looked as
if he might have been in the army, and a grave, handsome woman of fifty.
She has a certain noble amplitude of brow, a width between the eyes, a
calm quality of face and figure, very restful in contrast to certain
giddy young ladies of her age who enliven the table d’hote. She speaks
English with a slight accent. We made acquaintance over the mustard,
which we both prefer _à l’Anglaise_. The gentleman spoke of Ischia and
the neighboring parts of the country with such familiarity that I asked
him about my enchanted island, Procida.

“It is such an ideal looking place that it ought only to be inhabited by
beautiful rose-colored maidens,” I said.

He looked at his wife as he answered me.

“Ischia is the island for handsome women,” he said. “Procida is best
seen as you have seen it, from a distance. It is the place where the
Italian convicts are sent.”

Was not that a sad pricking of a rainbow bubble? His next words atoned
for that shattered illusion; they were addressed to his wife.

“Eva, my dear,” he said, “let me give you a little of this _vino di
paese_ (wine of the country). It comes from the _vigna_ on Mt. Epomeo,
it is the kind you used to like when you were a girl.”

At the name Eva I looked at the _colonello_, who was devouring green
figs at the end of the table. He answered my questioning look by one of
acquiesence.

Orlando was right! Lucia’s daughter and the husband of Lucia’s daughter
had come to Ischia to see Lucia!

“May I trouble you to hand me that other plate of figs?” said the
_colonello_. “The figs of Ischia are the finest in the world. I
sometimes wonder how many figs a man may eat and live.”

Suddenly light dawned! The _colonello_ is undoubtedly the “Old Person of
Ischia.” On the flanks of Epomeo we had looked for him, in the
sun-pierced alleys of Ischian vineyards, among the sailors on the
Marina, even in the halls of the _stabilimento_--our quest, the magnet
that drew us out of the path of duty (_that_ led back to Rome and the
studio), the hero of Lear’s verse. He was here, sleeping under the same
roof with us, sitting at the same table! Have not we ourselves seen him
eat scores, possibly hundreds of figs? If we could postpone our return
to Rome we should doubtless get up into the thousands, for,--

    “There was an old person of Ischia,
     Whose conduct grew friskier and friskier.
       He danced hornpipes and jigs,
       And ate thousands of figs,
     This lively old person of Ischia.”



XI

OLD AND NEW ROME--PALESTRINA


PALAZZO RUSTICUCCI, ROME, 1899.

Sunday afternoon we went over to hear vespers at St. Peter’s (the music
was Palestrina’s). The service was celebrated in the gorgeous Cappella
del Coro. It must have been some especial _festa_, for the chapel was
even more magnificent than usual, the priests wore extra fine flowered
brocade robes, the air was bluer and heavier with incense, there were
more candles. The slumbrous canons, in purple gowns and gray
squirrel-skin capes, dozed in their fretted stalls. Over their heads, in
the carved and gilded gallery, stood the choristers, two by two, each
pair holding between them a quaint, black-lettered music book; behind
the choir was the organ, in front, the leader, baton in hand. They all
wore white lace-trimmed cottas over black gowns. Their voices, dominated
by the piercing sweetness of the Pope’s angel, a male soprano, filled
the chapel with an almost overpowering melody, that flowed through the
gilded gates and floated out into the distant aisles and transepts of
the great church.

Wandering about after service, we came upon the tomb of Palestrina, in
the transept near the chapel where his _magnificat_ had rung out so
gloriously.

“The Church has a long memory for its saints, sinners, and
master-workmen. If I thought it would remember me, now, I would take the
vows to-morrow,” somebody said in my ear. It was Patsy.

“Jolly to think,” he went on, “of the old boy who led that choir and
composed that music for ’em--he died, you know, in 1594,--lying here
within the smell of the incense, within the sound of his own harmonics.”
Patsy’s only instrument is the guitar.

“I like incense,” he went on; “the Roman populace smells no sweeter than
in the days Shakespeare wrote about them; but the real value of incense,
of course, lies in its being a germ destroyer, a safeguard to the
priest. In the old days, when people did not know so much about health
as they do now, they used to come to church to give thanks for recovery
from smallpox while still in a state to give it to others.”

Here Helen came up. We had scarcely finished asking her news when Mr.
Z---- joined us.

“Looking at the tomb of Palestrina?” he said. “That reminds me, would
you ladies like to go and see the town from which he took his name? It
is an opportunity, the greatest living authority on polygonal walls is
going with us.”

“I never heard of a polygonal wall,” Helen began. (“You’d not give a
hoot to see one,” murmured Patsy.) “But I would go anywhere for a day in
the country this divine weather, provided the company was good.”

“And the luncheon,” Patsy put in.

Mr. Z---- smiled: “I think the ladies may trust me for that,” he said.
Then he gave Helen and me directions for meeting at the station and left
us.

“Z---- is a silly old gloat, but there is no malice in him,” Patsy said.
“His Antonio is the best cook in Rome. It is part of the law of
compensation that the biggest bores always have the best _chefs_.”

We had perfect weather for the trip to Palestrina. All the women, like
Helen, had come for the day’s outing in the country, the men were grimly
intent upon polygonal walls--all but one--Patsy, the uninvited, who
turned up at the station and said he “would go along to have a try at
the _vino di paese_ and to see if the girls of Palestrina were as pretty
as the girls of Præneste.” As we did not feel responsible for him (he is
a relation of the Z----’s) we were thankful to see his handsome face.
Express trains do not stop at Palestrina, so we had to take a local,
which crawled. One does not mind crawling across the Campagna, in sight
of the trees and tombs of the Via Appia, beside the long lines of brown
aqueducts, broken here and there into picturesque groups of arches. As
we approached the Alban hills we found a hazy scarf of pink gauze spread
about their feet and half way up to their knees; on nearer view this
proved to be fruit trees in blossom.

At the dull little station of Monte Compatri Colonna there was a delay.
Patsy, in search of diversion, tried to get out of the carriage. The
door was locked. He put a long leg out of the window and made as if he
would climb out. Excitement among the peasants on the platform.
Everybody talked at once. Four women and three men rushed to the window.

“_Eccellenza_, for charity’s sake, have patience! The door is capable of
being opened!” urged the vendor of _passa tempi_ (salted melon seeds).

An old woman, with a basket of assorted fruits, threw herself
passionately in the breach.

“For the love of the Madonna, _illustrissimo_, have a care, you will do
yourself an injury. The door opens, I assure you it is true. That
_ignorante_ of a guard. Where has he gone? The _capo stazione_ himself
should interest himself in your _signoria_.”

Patsy put out his head and one arm. The vendor of the straw-covered
flasks of red and white wine joined the group.

“This is a serious affair, _amici miei_,” he said. “Signori, restrain
the gentleman! Between ourselves now, is he mad? If so, my brother, who
is of the _carabinieri_, can easily be summoned.”

Patsy by this time had got one shoulder out and was frantically waving
an arm and a leg. That was too much for the immemorial beggar with the
head and beard of Jove, who for forty years has sat upon that platform
and begged. He laid down his tray of matches and hurried off on one leg
and a crutch to the office of the _capo stazione_. Meanwhile, the guard
came out of the restaurant furtively wiping his moustache. He rushed at
the carriage with his key. Only one person on the platform had
maintained his equilibrium,--the waiter from the restaurant, a man of
the world, continued to walk calmly up and down the platform, offering
his atrocious chiccory brew--he called it coffee--to the other
passengers. He rather superciliously let us alone.

The guard hurried to the window. “I asked the signori before I allowed
myself to attend to my duties at Colonna if any of the illustrious ones
desired to descend. You yourself, excellency, assured me you desired
nothing!” He fitted the key to the door as he spoke.

“Behold, did I not speak the truth?” said the fruit seller; “am I not
right? the door opens.”

Patsy leaned comfortably back in the corner and lighted a cigarette. The
_capo stazione_ arrived, hastily buttoning his gold-laced coat. He
looked daggers at the guard.

“What is wrong? If there has been any inattention it shall be reported.
How is this? One of the travellers obliged to get out of the window,
and now that the door is open nobody alights?”

“That gentleman,” said Patsy, nodding towards Mr. Z----, “wished to see
if he could climb out of the window. Do not trouble yourselves, he is
not mad, merely an original. So sorry you should have been disturbed.”
The _capo_ bowed politely to Patsy, fixed poor Z---- with a freezing
stare, and returned with olympian dignity to that stuffy seat of
authority, his office. The Jove-like beggar, leaning on his crutch, in
his curiosity to see us forgot to beg.

“_Un fiasco di vino!_” said the wine seller, thrusting a flask into the
carriage.

“_Portugalli!_” shrilled the old fruit woman.

“_Caffè due soldi la tazza_ (Coffee two cents a cup)!” cried the waiter.

“_Pronti_ (Ready)!” roared the guard.

“_Taratara!_” screamed the station master’s horn.

“_Partenza!_” and that was the last we saw of Monte Compatri Colonna.

Between Colonna and Palestrina Patsy allowed us to enjoy the view,
really well worth seeing. We had enchanting glimpses of the Alban,
Sabine, and Volscian mountains; the valleys between blazed with
wild-flowers. At the station the party divided, Mr. Z----, the expert
on polygonal walls, and the rest going in the stage, Patsy, Helen, and
ourselves crowding into a _botte_.

“The trouble with those fellows is,” said Patsy, “that they know too
much of one thing and too little of anything else. You’d be talked to
death and sick of the subject if I had not come along to save your
lives.”

“I _should_ like to know what we have come to see,” I feebly protested.

“Nonsense,” said Helen, “they have crammed it all out of books, you can
cram a great deal better afterwards. It takes the edge off to read too
much about a thing before you see it. Don’t read the guide-book till you
have seen the thing and got your own impression neat.”

The road from the station leads up a sharp incline, winding through the
steep and dirty streets of Palestrina, a hillside town, which stands
upon the ruins of the Colonna’s mediæval stronghold, which again stands
upon the ancient town of Præneste, extolled by the Latin poets. That
Præneste, with its magnificent Temple of Fortune, the resort of the
fashionable Romans of the days of Mæcenas, seems modern compared to the
ancient Præneste, whose ruins are found beneath it, and whose _arx_ was
the spot chosen for the picnic luncheon. It was a stiff climb. We left
the carriage at Castel San Pietro and scrambled to the summit where that
magnificent and indomitable race--Castellane calls them the
_Italiotti_--built their citadel. Here we saw the ruins of the polygonal
(we used to call them cyclopean) walls. Astonishing structures, making
the walls of the three later periods--the latest, exquisite brick-work
of the Empire--seem by comparison like the work of children! The huge
rocks are fitted together without cement of any sort, and in some places
the walls look as solid as the day they were built, long before Rome
was! To make room for our table-cloth, an old shepherd obligingly drove
his sheep a little lower down the mountain. He was knitting stockings
for one of his grandchildren; he has four to bring up. Their mother is
dead, their father--he went years ago to Buenos Ayres--has ceased to
write or to send them money.

A pretty girl spinning with a distaff asked shyly if she could help us.
Patsy sent her for water while he set the table.

“We could not have her handling the food, you know,” he said; “but she
is so decorative that we want to look at her while we eat and drink.
Antonio has outdone himself (he knew I was coming), this ham really has
been boiled in _vino di Montefiascone_, as I suggested. The girls of
Palestrina _are_ as handsome as the girls of Præneste.” Armida, our
girl, had come back, a dripping _conca_ poised on her head.

“How do you know so much about the girls of Præneste?” I asked.

“Go to the Kircheriano Museum and look at the Ficoronian Cista and you
will know as much as I do,” Patsy confessed. “It was found near here in
the necropolis. It is a green bronze toilet casket, with the most
corking pictures from the story of the Argonauts engraved upon it you
ever saw! Pollux has just licked Amycus, you know, for interfering with
the Greeks preempting the spring of water, and tied him up to a tree, as
he deserved. Then you have the Greeks drinking out of the spring. In the
harbor lies the good ship Argo; on shore you see Jason and Hercules, one
of the Argonauts in the attitude of boxing, a fat old Silenus mimicking
him. Female beauty is represented by Athena and Niké, who seem to be
offering a victor’s crown to the lucky Pollux. It’s up to date, I can
tell you. The girls are no prettier than Armida there; but find me the
man who can ‘do’ her like the fellow who engraved that Cista, and I will
pay him to make her portrait!”

“How long ago was the casket made?” Helen asked.

“If you must have a date, 700 B.C. is as good as another. Heigh ho! The
world’s grown lazy! All this talk about modern energy makes me tired!
Where’s the energy in any race on earth to-day to build an _arx_ like
this? to live on the top of a steep hill like this? to trundle itself
and its chattels up and down? Our civilization compared to Præneste’s is
barbarism by every standard I know.”

“You don’t know much,” said Helen. “_I_ know you have waited too long
for your luncheon. Your views will improve directly.”

As we ate our luncheon, Armida awkwardly weaving a garland of oak leaves
after a pattern Patsy made her, watched us with shy, hungry eyes. She
and I exchanged glances (not a word was spoken) which said,--

“Signora, I have rarely tasted white bread--never such a _pasticcio_ as
the _signorino_ is giving to the shepherd’s dog!”

“_Figlia mia_, all that remains of the feast shall be for you and the
shepherd; you will divide with him?”

“_Stia sicura_ (Rest assured)!” said Armida’s honest eyes.

There was wine in an amphora--how had Patsy managed it?--he poured the
first glass on the ground in libation.

Looking at Armida and raising his glass, “_Alle belle ragaze di
Palestrina!_” he said. The shepherd’s dog sniffed the spilt wine
scornfully.

“_Tutti gli Inglesi sono matti!_ (The English are all mad)!” muttered
the shepherd.


PALAZZO RUSTICUCCI, ROME, 1899.

June in Italy is heaven. The weather is delicious. Life is pleasant and
calm. J. has found a small American ice-chest, the only one in Rome; we
are as proud as peacocks about it; Pompilia shows it off as if it were
the great kohinoor. It is an economy in ice, which has only lately been
introduced, and is fabulously dear. Nena fetches a tiny slab of
artificial ice every afternoon, it is wrapped in thick felt, put into
the American ice-chest, where it keeps the milk and wine cool. Green
nuts are part of the

[Illustration: _The Lady K._

From a red chalk drawing in the Collection of Mr. Thomas W. Lawson]

[Illustration: Copyright, 1900, by John Elliott. From a Copley Print.
Copyright, 1901, by Curtis & Cameron, Publishers, Boston.]

summer bill of fare, fresh filberts in their jackets, green almonds and
English walnuts as much nicer fresh than dried as fresh figs are better
than dry, or grapes than raisins.

Ignazio, our gardener, handsome, sympathetic, with a timid laugh, a
hesitating manner, a real passion for his calling, was recommended to us
as knowing more about roses than any man in Rome. The burthen of caring
for our beloved flowers had become too great. The improvement since the
expert took hold and properly grafted our roses is astonishing. Ignazio
has to be restrained from quite ruining us. To him the natural order
would be to spend the greater part of one’s income upon one’s flowers--I
am not so sure he is not right! For weeks he has been talking about a
new rare flower--just the thing for the terrace--whose name he could not
remember. When I asked him he took off his old cap, rubbed his head in a
puzzled way, and complained that the English names were “too difficult.”
I caught his enthusiasm, ordered some of these rare exotics, though the
price was high. To-day arrived six fine specimens of the wild American
purple aster, which overruns the fields and roadsides at home!

Signor Giacomo Boni, the architect in charge of the public buildings of
ancient Rome, has a rival terrace on the roof of his house: we went to
see his Japanese lilies the other day. Fancy, he has a cherry tree with
ripe cherries on it, a peach tree with peaches, a tame starling in a
cage, and quite the most wonderful collection of plants and flowers I
ever saw in so small a space. Signor Boni has planted on the Palatine,
in the Forum, and in the Baths of Caracalla, the flowers and shrubs
mentioned in the classics as growing in those places. The good work is
beginning to tell already; now there are roses and fleur-de-lis growing
in the Forum. The vandalism which stripped the Colosseum of its glorious
robe of flowered green and exposed its gaunt skeleton to view, is at an
end, but the havoc it wrought is irreparable--at least in my lifetime.
Fancy, there were five hundred different varieties of wild-flowers
growing on that splendid old ruin. Many of these are unknown in other
parts of Europe and are supposed to have sprung from seeds that were
mixed in the various kinds of fodder imported from Africa to feed the
wild beasts which fought in the old blood-soaked arena.


PALAZZO RUSTICUCCI, ROME, August 3, 1899.

It was too hot for sleep last night, a rare thing in Rome. At half-past
four this morning, when I went out on the terrace to water the plants,
the smooth red tiles were still warm to bare feet. The Piazza of St.
Peter’s was a sea of fog, out of which loomed the lantern of Angelo’s
dome; no other part of the great church was visible. A white mist from
the Tiber rose like a wall between us and Mt. Soracte; the river and the
mountain Horace loved are still the dearest things in the wide view of
the Roman landscape. When the plants had been watered it was half-past
five, just the right time for bicycling, so we set out. At this hour few
people are about, save the drivers of the heavy wains of hay--drawn by
big, soft-eyed gray oxen with magnificent branching horns. These wagons
of fragrant hay are not allowed in the streets after eight o’clock in
the morning. Though the Forum was reached before six, Signor Boni and
his aids were already hard at work. Swarms of men, like so many busy
ants, were passing to and from the excavations, wheeling barrows full of
earth, returning a little later with empty barrows.

“Where do you put the rubbish that you take out?” I asked. The _capo_
smiled indulgently. “Every particle of the earth of the Forum is
sacred,” he said. “We skim it off carefully in layers, keeping each
layer quite separate from the others. Then we sift it layer by layer,
sort whatever it contains, examine each bit of broken glass, metal,
pottery, and, where it is possible, piece the fragments together.”

In a sacrificial layer, composed chiefly of the ashes and bones of
victims offered at the altars of the gods, the _capo_ lately found the
jaw bones of several large dogs. These did not properly belong here,
among the bones of beeves, sheep, and goats, the regulation sacrificial
animals. The layer in which they were found proved to be of the time of
Marcellus. Now, what were the bones of these big dogs doing there?

One dark night--it was in the days of Marcellus--the Goths descended for
the first time upon Rome, the citadel came within an ace of being
taken--would have been, but for the cackling of the silly geese which
roused the sleeping guards. The silly geese became sacred geese, and the
faithless watch-dogs, who had failed to bark and give the alarm, were
slaughtered at the altar,--and that is how the big canine jaw bones turn
up to-day in the sacrificial layer of Marcellus! The _capo’s_ dreamy
blue eyes, the eyes of an enthusiast, glowed with an inner light as he
unfolded this theory. Imagination, you see, is as important to the
successful archæologist as it is to any other discoverer. He must have
other things as well--a thorough knowledge of the classics, for
instance. Did not Mme. Schlieman learn the whole of Homer by heart, to
aid her husband in his search for the tomb of Agamemnon?

If in reading Tacitus or Livy the _capo_ finds mention of a missing
building or statue, he goes and looks for it in the place where
according to the historians it ought to be--and where, nine times out of
ten, he finds it! While he talked to us his eyes never left the skilful
hands of a workman patiently matching together pieces of brown
terra-cotta from a large pile of shards.

“If we could only make up one complete tile!” he sighed.

We were in the temporary museum where the latest “finds” of the Forum
are kept. The man at the next table was putting together a really
beautiful vessel of dark-blue glass. It might have been the Myrrhene
goblet of Petronius!

“The tiles are so ugly, so monotonous--why should you care? I could
understand, now, if a piece of that enchanting blue glass were missing!”
I said.

“The cup is only a cup,--beautiful if you will,--but what does it teach
us? nothing new. If we could find a whole tile, now, it would fix the
date of a building we are in doubt about.”

Scientific methods, you see; even in Rome we cannot escape them! Then we
went and looked at the spot where the Jewish citizens of Rome piously
burned the body of Julius Cæsar, and at what remains of the house where
Cæsar lived, a corner of the dining-room, with the white mosaic
pavement, and a piece of wall painted with a decoration of fruit,
flowers, green trees, and a pointed bamboo trellis, in the same style as
the Villa Livia, built by the widow of Augustus, who, perhaps, had
admired Aunt Calpurnia’s dining-room, and when her time came to build
imitated it!

In the house of the Vestal Virgins we saw some fine pavements lately
uncovered. Vesta is by far the most interesting of the Roman
divinities. Is there a shrine to her at Radcliffe? There should be; we
owe Rome the “higher education,” as we owe her the law we live by, the
army we conquer by. Close to the Temple of Vesta we saw the place where
earthquakes were foretold by the simplest contrivance. On a white marble
platform finely adjusted weights were placed so as to oscillate with the
first, otherwise imperceptible, tremors of the earth; in this way the
knowing ones were enabled to foretell the earthquakes to the populace.
Not far from here is the point where lightning once struck, making a
hole ever after held sacred. It was turned into a sacred well, wherein
jewels, cups, and other precious offerings were thrown by the devout or
the superstitious. Both these shrines are very near the Temple of Vesta.
Was it by chance that the fanes of the three things primitive man fears
most, fire, earthquake, and lightning, should be so near together? The
_capo_ thinks not.

“Now come and see the Republican well I have just found,” he said,
leading the way to a deep pit in the form of an _amphora_, with smooth
rounded sides lined with cement.

“Notice the work they did in the days of the Republic; it is far better
than the work of the Empire. See this cement, as perfect as the day it
was laid.”

“What did you find in this well?” we asked.

“Come and see. Here are a great number of styluses--the Roman pens used
for writing on wax tablets” (do you suppose some poor devil of a
literary man threw them in in a moment of despair?) “and the entire
contents of a Republican butcher’s shop. See, there is the great
cleaver, these are the knives--even the wooden handles are intact. These
round stones are the weights, here is the thigh bone of the last ox
slaughtered before the shop came to grief, and here--take it carefully,
it is of terra-cotta--is the butcher’s lamp. Do you make out the design?
It is in the shape of an inflated oxhide.”

I never saw the like of that lamp! Of all the precious things the _capo_
has unearthed, I most covet the Republican butcher’s squat little
earthenware lamp with the neck of the skin pursed together to hold the
wick.

“Now come and look at the true Via Sacra; you see it lies several feet
below the road we used to call the Sacred Way. Do you observe how much
finer this early pavement is than the later paving? But wait, I shall
show you better yet,--the earlier the work, the better the
workmanship.”

As we stood on the large squares of smooth gray stone, a cloud veiled
the hot August sun, a shadow crossed the pavement. Might it not have
been just here that Horace tacked to avoid meeting that bore Crispinus?
When midsummer comes and everybody goes away, and there remains only
Rome, ourselves, and the mighty ghosts,--these grow so real that I
wonder if I dreamed the tea-party-picnicking Rome of winter and spring.

“Here is the Basilica Emilia. We should not have been able to excavate
this if it had not been for Mr. St. Clair Baddeley, who raised the money
in England to buy the land and indemnify the owners of the houses we
were obliged to pull down. Look at these two delightful bas-reliefs;
have you ever seen such a treatment of the acanthus?”

The reliefs are the most florid--one might almost say
“baroque”--acanthus designs I have ever seen. In one the flower in the
centre of the “curly cue” ends in a prancing horse; the other terminates
in some apochryphal beast, like a dragon.

“Wait, wait till I make a copy of this adorable white and green
pavement,” I cried. It was a geometrical design in Emilia’s Basilica. A
design that I have never seen either in Egypt or Greece.

“For that you will not need me,” said the _capo_; “it is growing late
and hot; now for the Lapis Niger!” Like a child he had kept the best of
the feast for the last. As we went, I picked up a small piece of
iridescent glass, opal, rose, and pearl, a bit of heaven’s rainbow dug
from the “sacred earth.”

“What might this have been?” I asked.

“That we shall see, perhaps part of a tear bottle, perhaps a fragment of
the vessel in which the vestals daily brought lustral water for the
altars from the Fountain of Egeria!” Was he laughing at me?

I shall not forget the sensation produced by the first sight of the
Lapis Niger, the black stone of the so-called tomb of Romulus. Whether
the smooth slab of black marble actually covered the ashes of Romulus,
or was a later monument put up to his memory, has not yet, I believe,
been established. They do know that the inscription on the cippus
beneath the stone is written in the most ancient Latin which has yet
come to light--the epigraphists are still cracking their brains trying
to read it. Is it not pleasant to have the sceptical German historians
routed? To have our Romulus and Remus given back to us, our Tarquins,
our Numa Pompilius, and Egeria? To tell the truth, I never gave them up,
I always kept a sneaking belief in demigods and heroes, took Hawthorne’s
word against the Teutons. Now I am being justified right and left. Boni
finds the Tomb of Romulus in the Roman Forum, Dr. Evans finds the palace
of Minos, and the labyrinth of the Minotaur in Crete.

To comfort-loving persons Rome is the most satisfactory place in the
world for the study of man--from the savage of thirty centuries ago in
his tree coffin, fished up from the bottom of Lake Trasimeno (now at the
Museum Papa Giulio), to Victor Emmanuel in his tomb at the Pantheon.
Think of it, the first king of Young Italy sleeping in a temple of
Ancient Rome which has been in use ever since it was built in the year
27 B.C. Athens is a thousand times more beautiful than Rome, but to the
ultra modern Greece seems on the outskirts of “to-day.” Here, here in
Rome, we fancy we are in the midst of things, and creature comforts are
still to be had, as in the days of Lucullus (I recommend you an
_omelette soufflée aux surprises à la Grand Hotel_! Outside an ordinary
hot soufflée--the surprise is the heart, cold sublimated chocolate
ice-cream)!

Not long since, while lunching at that luxurious restaurant, we became
aware of a personage at the next table. Everybody looked at him; it was
impossible not to look at him. He was a large, masterful man with a high
color, young gray hair, and a look of power I have not often met. We
began to guess his nationality. I immediately claimed him. “He is an
American, a Western senator, from Montana or Washington State.”

There was something large and dauntless about him, the free look of one
coming from a young country.

“Please find out who that gentleman at the next table is?” our host said
to the waiter.

The man seemed surprised at the question.

“That is Cecil Rhodes, sir,” he answered.

After that we could not help catching some of his talk--perhaps we did
not try very hard--it was brilliant, exhilarating, and cordial. His
guests were hardly more _en rapport_ with him than the rest of us in
the room. He was not unconscious that the people who sat near, the
waiters, even the sphinx-like manager, hovering in the offing with
impassive face, were thrilled by being in his company: nor could his
attitude be called conscious. He merely seemed aware of us, could no
more help dominating the chance crowd in a fashionable restaurant than
his fellows in the Transvaal.

It happened that after lunch we took our friends “sightseeing” to the
Kircheriano Museum, where we found one of the earliest Roman citizens
and his wife, still lying side by side in the very earth the mourners
threw over them, his rude stone weapons, her primitive household
utensils close to their hands. There, you see, are the two ends of your
chain of interest (there is not a missing link between),--the
prehistoric man at the Kircheriano Museum and the man who is making
history, Cecil Rhodes, on his way to South Africa, lunching at the Grand
Hotel!



XII

THE ANNO SANTO


PALAZZO RUSTICUCCI, ROME, February 7, 1900.

“If I am ever a rich man,--” Patsy began.

“Which heaven forfend--you have not the gift!” said the monsignore.

“Wait and see!--I shall build a great church.”

“Like St. Peter’s there?”

We were on the terrace. The sun was setting behind the chapel of the
Vatican. There was still light enough for the yellow of the sun-soaked
façade, the pale blue of the dome, to tell against the gray and rosy
sky.

“Oh, make it the Parthenon! They both give a fellow the same sort of
feeling as being in love does, or seeing Niagara.”

“It is not a bad use to put a fortune to,” the monsignore agreed.

“It is about time the artists had their innings!” Patsy declared. “I
should like to be referee. Gladiators, prize-fighters wouldn’t be in
it. What fun _can_ there be in backing such creatures, or even a horse?
I would rather stake my fortune on an architect like Bramante--trust my
future reputation to a painter like Pinturricchio than to a Flying
Childers or a Goldsmith Maid.”

“First catch your hare,” said the monsignore.

“The woods are full of ’em. Give the artists a chance, and you’ll see
the trouble is not with them! The opportunity must come first. A country
has the art it deserves. When we Americans want beauty as much as we
want rapid transit we shall get it.”

“There are _some_ signs,” said the monsignore. “We have art patrons who
pay enormous sums for old masters.”

“Our art patrons lack imagination,” said Patsy. “It is so easy, so
obvious, to buy ‘old masters,’ to patronize Leonardo da Vinci and
Botticelli! I should pick my men, give ’em the track, and let ’em show
their paces. Wait till I build my cathedral: you will see an architect,
a painter, and a sculptor or two.”

“‘The hand that rounded Peter’s dome, wrought with a sad sincerity,’”
quoted the monsignore. He had come to tell us about the Pope’s opening
the _Porta Santa_ on Christmas eve,--the first of the many functions of
this _Anno Santo_.

Finally we “muzzled” Patsy, and the monsignore seized his chance to
speak.

“As the ceremony was in the portico of St. Peter’s,” he said, “a
comparatively small place, very few invitations were issued. The papal
throne was erected near the _Porta Santa_,--the Jubilee door,--it is the
one on the extreme right of the portico, you will remember it by the
cross upon it. The Pope knocked three times upon the _Porta Santa_ with
a mallet, saying as he did so, “_Aperite mihi portas justitiae_ (Open to
me the door of justice).” At the words the door (which was last opened
by Leo the Twelfth, in 1825) fell away as if by magic, and His Holiness
walked alone into the vast empty church, where there was no other living
being but himself. He tottered down the aisle, past the splendid tombs
of his predecessors, beneath that unmarked sepulchre over the door,
where Pius the Ninth lies waiting the day when he must make room for him
in his tomb as he made room for him on his throne. At the shrine of St.
Peter the Pope knelt and said a prayer. For me that was the great
moment in the whole gorgeous ceremony.”

“It all comes back to the simple human situation of an old man passing
the tomb where he soon must lie!” was Patsy’s comment.

“It is just the simple human situation that the Church always comes back
to,” said the monsignore.

“Oh, I say! simple, you know! That’s putting it a little strong. The
scene you describe is simple and touching, but, as a rule, the services
over there are more gorgeous and theatrical than religious!”

“Granted,--St. Peter’s is the stage on which the dramas of the church
are played. Why not? Why not use every art to the glory of God--music,
the drama, all the rest? There are a hundred quiet parish churches where
one can go for devotion and aspiration.”

Patsy’s company is always stimulating, but he rather interfered with my
getting all the information I wanted from the monsignore. I did manage
to extract the facts that the _Anno Santo_ was instituted by Boniface
VIII., in 1300, that it was originally meant to celebrate it every
hundred years; that the Romans petitioned to have the time shortened to
every fifty years, then to thirty-three years (the supposed earthly life
of Christ), and finally to every twenty-five years; that at the five
other Basilicas in Rome ceremonies like those at St. Peter’s were
celebrated on the same day--a cardinal opening the _Porta Santa_ in
each, and that during the _Anno Santo_ plenary indulgence is obtainable
by all Catholics who pass a certain number of times in a given number of
days, through the holy doors of St. Peter’s, and the five other
Basilicas, repeating the appointed prayers.

“Every twenty-five years, you say?” Patsy insisted, “and the last
Jubilee was in 1825--how is that?”

“In 1850 and again in 1875 Rome was so unsettled that the observance of
the _Anno Santo_ was not expedient,” said the monsignore, shortly.

“Let me see,” mused Patsy; “in 1850 Pius the Ninth was at Gaeta, trying
a change of air for his health, and Mazzini was at the head of the Roman
Republic. In 1875, Pius still thought that the Dukes of Savoy were only
casual visitors and had not yet realized that they had come to Rome to
stay. Isn’t that about the size of it?”

“My dear boy,” said the monsignore imperturbably, “_now_ you are talking
about things you do _not_ understand.” He talked of other things for a
few moments and then went away.

On Christmas Eve the pilgrims began to arrive in torrents, and have been
pouring in and out of the city ever since. They will not be allowed to
come in July and August--supposed to be the least healthy months. They
have gathered from the uttermost parts of the earth hordes of strangers
invading Rome as I believe it has not been invaded since the days of
Attila and his Huns. From the terrace we see pilgrims from all the
Catholic nations of the earth pass to bow the knee and drop the _obolo_
at the feet of the Prisoner of the Vatican. These vast pilgrimages,
sometimes several thousand strong--are admirably managed. A dearth of
cabs is the first sign we notice of their arrival. The piazza is
deserted, not a cab in sight. A little later a procession of cabs,
crowded with pilgrims (six to a carriage) and their belongings--the
queerest boxes, bales, bundles begin to rattle across the piazza to the
vast buildings in the rear of the Vatican where the pilgrims lodge. They
usually stay three days; during that time they are received by the
Pope, visit all the Basilicas, see the sights, and depart richer in
experience and plenary indulgence, leaving the Pope, the shop keepers,
hotel keepers, and cabmen richer in money. Each flood gilds (or silver
plates) poor old Rome till it shines as it has not shone in years.

I did not suppose there were so many splendid costumes left in the world
as have passed through the Piazza of St. Peter’s and under my eyes
during these few months! Hungarians in tight-fitting black breeches,
jackets trimmed with black astrakhan and long high boots. Herzegovinians
with wonderful garments of white sheepskin, embroidered in red silk
outlined designs (the woolly side of the sheepskin is worn next the
person, the outside looks like parchment), fur-trimmed boots, hair cut
square across the shoulders, faces of rapt devotion. The Poles were a
superb group, the women wore costumes of striped vermilion and emerald
green, the men, scarlet breeches, green jackets, and picturesque woollen
caps. There were Cossacks from the river Don, with long, gray woollen
caftans down to their heels, high pointed caps, and cartridge belts over
their shoulders, they would be ugly customers to come up against on a
less peaceful excursion. While driving, we passed one Don Cossack who
reminded us so vividly of Taras Bulba, the hero of Gogol’s Iliad of the
North, that we followed him for half an hour, as he stalked about the
city, looking at the sights as if they were all perfectly familiar to
him. He was a giant with a mane of bronzed hair, dark eyes, high cheek
bones, and a look of indomitable power, of silent reserved strength,
that made the careless casual passer-by seem an effete, over-civilized
being. He wore jewel-handled daggers stuck in a waist belt, fastened
with turquoises “as big as my two thumbs.” He must be “somebody” at
home.

The other evening J. brought home the news that there were a lot of
pilgrims lodged in the wing of the Palazzo Torlonia, opposite his
studio. The next morning R. and I hurried over to the Borgo St. Angelo
to see what was to be seen. The Palazzo Giraud Torlonia, which has a
splendid front on the Borgo Nuovo, only a block away from the
Rusticucci--has two long wings in the rear, with a courtyard between
them, the entrance to both wings being on the Borgo St. Angelo, rather a
squalid back street. The studio is a vast room as big as a church on
the second floor. When my mother was in Rome, on her wedding journey,
she danced in this room at one of the famous balls, given by old
Torlonia, the banker prince, the founder of the family, and grandfather
of the present incumbent, J.’s landlord. The studio--at the time J. took
it the only available one in Rome large enough for his purpose--could
only be had by hiring the whole wing, with its three stories, the right
to _re-let_ being refused. This makes him master of all he surveys, as
the grim, stone-paved courtyard, with its ever-flowing fountain fringed
with maidenhair fern, goes with his wing.

I received a shock on entering the studio, and looking at the big
picture for the first time in days. The little blindfold Love who led
the procession of the centuries in The Flight of Time, has been painted
out! He now exists only in my memory, and in the cartoon, a red chalk
drawing hanging in our hall. Though the composition is better without
him, it gave me a pang to find him gone. To console me, I found three
portrait studies of the beautiful Lady K.

From the studio windows we could see into the vast high rooms of the
opposite ell, which is hired for the pilgrims, when, as on this
occasion, they cannot all be accommodated in the huge _lazzaretto_ the
Pope built during the last cholera summer. That was in 1884. Naples was
decimated by the disease; everybody believed that the cholera would come
to Rome (everybody except J., who calmly passed the summer here). The
Pope built the great _lazzaretto_ against the cholera’s coming; King
Humbert, of the high courage, went to meet the cholera, went to
pest-stricken Naples, walked through the hospital wards where the
cholera patients lay, spoke comfortably to them, won new glory for the
brave house of Savoy, a fresh hold on his people’s hearts. As the
_lazzaretto_--it has never been used as such--was not big enough to hold
the French pilgrimage, some of it spilled over into the empty wing of
the Torlonia Giraud Palace, across the courtyard from the studio.

When R. and I arrived on the scene it was the hour of bedmaking. We
could see the neat, light figures of the nuns (to whose care the
entertainment of the pilgrims is entrusted) tucking in the sheets,
smoothing out the pillows of the long lines of white cots that filled
the rooms. On the sidewalk, outside the green door--all our doors in
the Borgo seem to be green--sat a group of old men smoking the solemn,
after-breakfast pipe. Feeling that we must see the pilgrims at nearer
view, we went down to the street and out of our door just in time to
meet a rosy young sister as she came out of the opposite door with a
little old peasant woman, whose face was wrinkled and brown as an
English walnut. The old peasant wore over a full white linen shirt a
dark cloth jacket cut square at the bosom, with straps going over the
shoulders. The double-breasted jacket was fastened with silver buttons
and heavily embroidered in a charming pattern with variegated silks. On
her head was a plain white cap of sheer muslin turned back over the
ears, and hanging to the shoulders. Under the muslin cap was a sort of
gilt skull-cap. She wore a heavy plaited skirt of dark blue broadcloth,
sabots painted black, long earrings of filigree gold inset with seed
pearls. Even beside the pure linen of the sister, she positively shone
with cleanliness.

“Look well at that jacket,” I said to R., “did you ever see one like it
before?”

“Why, it is _our_ Breton jacket!”

_You_ perhaps remember that at the old yellow house where R. lives
there is a trunk full of “dressing up things,” the theatrical wardrobe
of the children, largely made up of the old finery of three preceding
generations!

“Did you ever see that cap before?” I asked R.

“Why it’s grandmama’s cap!”

“Long ago, when you were only a baby, grandmother and I passed a summer
in Brittany. At Quimper, where we spent some happy weeks, a jacket like
that was made for me, and we found the one and only model for
grandmama’s cap.”

The little old peasant woman carried a large blue cotton umbrella, with
time-yellowed ivory handle and points, a perfect ark, under which three
even four generations might take refuge from a deluge. I looked at her
so intently, with such a passion of longing memory, that she must have
seen something more than common curiosity in my glance, for she gave me
a second look less preoccupied, more gentle than the first, and then
paused. I grasped the opportunity, and going up to her asked in French
how things were at Quimper? She listened patiently, politely,
understanding nothing of what I said till I pronounced the magic word
“Quimper.” Then the old eyes grew keen and intent. She put out a hand
and answered me in a flood of kindly Breton, whose sound only was
familiar to me. For some minutes we stood there in the middle of the
Borgo St. Angelo, shaking hands, looking intently at each other, first
one, then the other repeating the word “Quimper!” To her it meant home;
to me, the one thing dearer! Then with a last tightening of the hands we
parted. We recognized other of the Breton costumes, from
St.-Pol-de-Leon, Douarnenez, the Morbihan, we remembered having seen
some of them at the great pardon of Ploërmel. The caps of Quimper are
quite distinct from the caps of Quimperle, you understand, though the
towns are not far apart!

That afternoon, with a roll of thunder drums and a flash of lightning,
the deluge descended upon the Borgo. I rushed to the watch-tower--our
upper terrace, to see the storm. From the four quarters of the sky the
lightning swords smote at each other; from the soft white clouds above
the Castle St. Angelo came rose-colored lightning with a growl; from a
purple rack over St. Peter’s a piercing yellow zigzag, like a Saracen
blade, followed by the crack of cannon. Veils of rain fell, mixed with
the white spray of the fountains, and were driven in smoky sheets across
the square. The piazza was alive with pilgrims coming away from St.
Peter’s, where service was just over, the steps were black with people.
The pilgrims scattered like leaves before the storm; the skirts of women
and priests were blown about, like the bewitched draperies of the
Bernini statues on the façade of the church. In the midst of the
hurrying, scurrying crowd I made out the blue umbrella ark of Quimper,
valiantly held up by a tall young peasant; my little old woman--perhaps
his mother--paddled along on one side, a stout wench--perhaps his
wife--on the other. The cabs were all snatched up in a moment. Down in
the Borgo I could see the _gobbo_ waiting for me at our door. I had to
keep a pressing engagement and dared not delay till the tempest passed,
lest the _gobbo_ and his cab be ravished from my sight. As we rattled
along the Borgo Nuovo, I recognized the _parroco_; he was without an
umbrella and was getting soaked to the skin. As we would pass his door
it seemed the part of friendship to give him a lift.

“Stop!” I cried to the _gobbo_; “the _parroco_ is going our way, we will
take him home.”

“There is no use in stopping,” said the _gobbo_. I insisted. Sulky and
grumbling he drew up just outside the hospital of the Santo Spirito. The
water was rushing through the gutter like a small millstream.

“Jump in, _padre_, we will take you home.”

“No, no. Thank you--it is impossible!”

I persisted.

“Drive on!” he cried impatiently to the _gobbo_. To me more gently, “It
would not do for me to be seen driving with a lady.”

As the _gobbo_ whipped up the old white horse, a crowded carriage
containing four women and two foreign-looking priests passed us. I
looked back at the _parroco_; he shrugged his shoulders, his lips formed
the words, “What can you expect? They are French!”

“What did I tell you, _Signora mia_?” murmured the _gobbo_. “It would
have been a scandal for the poor _parroco_ to be seen driving with you!”

Wasn’t that slap at the French nice? The _parroco_ served his two years
in the army when he was young; he is a good Italian, a son of the soil,
a son of the Church. The passions of his race are strong in him, and in
spite of his cassock he hates a Frenchman!

Coming home late that evening we found behind our door a small wallet
lined with coarse red morocco. It contained nothing but memoranda of
modest expenditures:

Cab, one franc.

Candles, six sous.

Tobacco, fifty centimes.

Rosary of amethyst beads (for Berthe), four francs.

Souvenirs of Rome, seven francs, etc.

Crabbedly written on the flyleaf was the address of a priest of
Vaucluse. _Vaucluse!_ Isn’t that a name to conjure with? We read the
poor priest’s case as easily as his simple record of expenses. No people
are quite so attentive to the pilgrims as the “light-fingered gentry.”
The thief who stole the pocket-book, after taking out whatever of value
it contained, threw it into our doorway to be rid of it. J. has sent it
by post to the priest at Vaucluse; it will at least help him to make up
his accounts.

“Souvenirs,” always a staple of Roman trade, are more in evidence in the
shop windows than ever. The French pilgrims buy a great many souvenirs.
We saw our old friend from Quimper in a shop in the Borgo. To get
another look at her, and to show her to Patsy, who was with me, we went
in and looked at souvenirs. Besides the “articles of religion” there
were semi-religious articles; spoons, pens, pins, a thousand useless
nothings bearing the triple crown, the keys of Peter, the sacred
initials. The shop-keeper laid a tray full before Patsy, who turned them
over indifferently. “Fancy keeping stamps in this,” he held up a box
with the white dove of the _Spirito Santo_ inlaid upon the cover, “or
cutting _Punch_ with that!” he displayed a paper knife with the figure
of the Lamb. “I say, you know, the common use the shop-keepers put these
sacred symbols to is more than I can stand!”

The shop-keeper thought he understood; we caught his whisper to his
wife, “They are not Christians, they are Saracens!” to us he said, “Have
patience, sir, here is your affair!”

He opened a drawer under the counter. It contained the same souvenirs,
the same boxes, spoons, pens, paper-knives, what-nots, with Mahomedan
symbols, instead of Christian--the crescent, the star, the scimitar, the
monogram of the prophet.

“No, not quite our affair,” said Patsy. “We are not Mahomedans.”

The shop in which we were chaffering is in the very shadow of Peter’s
dome; the bells in the clock tower were ringing the _Ave_.

The cry is, Still they come! Pilgrims, pilgrims, pilgrims. By just
sitting tight on our terrace and using our eyes, the uttermost parts of
Christendom have been brought to us. Sardinians, for instance. When
Patsy came back from his moufflon hunting trip in Sardinia, and talked
familiarly about “Sards,” we were devoured with curiosity to see them
for ourselves. A week after, the “Sards” arrived in force. They are more
like Corsicans, or even Spaniards, than like Italians; they have grave,
dark, impassive faces, and an expression of sombre reserve. The men’s
dress is in keeping with their character; a black woollen, knitted
bonnet, like a sailor’s cap, hangs on one side to the shoulder,
close-fitting jacket, leggings, and sash, all black. Their coarse
homespun linen shirts, made very full in the bosom and sleeves, and worn
without starch, are a great improvement on the dreadful stiff, white
armor in which our men encase themselves for their sins! The “Sards’”
only ornaments were silver buckles worn at the knees and on the shoes.

One morning J., who had started early for the studio, came back to tell
me that a group of Filipinos had just gone over to St. Peter’s.

“How do you know they are Filipinos?”

“I don’t _know_; they look like two Filipino art students who used to be
in Rome. One of them was named Luna. He was the best draughtsman in the
studio; he beat everybody at drawing; seemed to have a dash of the
Japanese dexterity.”

“Was he any relation to General Luna?”

“Only his brother,” said J. Now that is Rome, and that is J.!

I hurried over to St. Peter’s and caught up with the Filipinos before
they had made the third chapel of prayer. They are small, swarthy men;
their faces show a strange mingling of races, something of the
Malay, he Mongol, the Latin, with a fourth element I did not
recognize,--rather deadly looking folk, I thought, but very devout in
their behavior at church.

When royalty comes to the Vatican there is a deal of pother. The morning
of the King of Siam’s visit to the Pope, we were waked at dawn by the
carts fetching the royal yellow sand, and the men spreading it thick
over the streets where the wheels of royalty were to pass. The King,
whom we saw perfectly, is a fierce-looking little fellow; he was dressed
in quite the most lovely uniform I have ever seen; white broadcloth,
embroidered in gold. Do you suppose their good clothes are any
mitigation to the _ennui_ of sovereigns? I should think they might be.


Easter Sunday, 1900.

We thought we had seen Rome crowded before, but we had not! During the
past week, the crowds have been almost inconceivable. By Wednesday all
the bathrooms at the Grand Hotel that could be spared had been turned
into bedrooms. Last night a pair of travellers slept in the red plush
cushioned elevator, and two in the big comfortable hotel omnibus. Cabs
are a rare commodity--even the _gobbo_ has deserted us and hired himself
out by the week to the pilgrims. The electric cars (did I tell you they
had put these pests in under our very windows?) are so jammed that we go
for the most part “shanks’ mare.” Many of our friends have let their
apartments, and gone away for the rest of the season. We could have got
a good price for ours; but in spite of the undeniable inconvenience (the
cost of provisions has almost doubled), we would not have missed the
experience. The city has been a Babel of foreign tongues, a kaleidescope
of foreign faces and costumes. One tastes life as from a goblet filled
and brimming over with sparkling, heady wine. That old gogpate, Z----,
has let his villa, carriage, servants, even his precious Antonio, the
best cook in Rome. He said to J., “I cannot afford to stay in Rome when
the price of _filet_ has doubled and I can get my whole year’s rent by
letting the villa for three months.”

“We cannot afford _not_ to stay in Rome when it is so interesting,” said
J. There you have the two ways of looking at life--the Philistine’s and
the artist’s!

We have taken part in a canonization--there remained but that--of all
the ceremonials on “that stage of the Church” incomparably the most
sumptuous we have seen. When I heard that the new saint’s name was La
Salle, stirred by memories of Parkman’s “Discovery of the Great West,” I
insisted upon having tickets to one of the private tribunes. I confess
it was a disappointment to find that we were making a saint of the
wrong Lasalle, _not_ our own René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle,
but another doubtless excellent person described as “a distinguished
educator priest.” You have heard about so many ceremonies that I will
only speak of the _river_ of bishops! I did not suppose there were so
many bishops in the world. They passed down the vast church in a line of
seething white and gold, stretching from the entrance down the nave to
the very chair of Peter behind the high altar. Every bishop carried a
tall white wax torch, whose yellow flame lighted up his white and gold
vestments, his gold-tipped mitre and crozier. I shall never forget that
dazzling splendor! I have seen so many of these great pageants that I am
rather _blasée_ about them, but those gorgeous bishops in their
immaculate white and gold robes outshone even the arrogant vermilion
cardinals, the purple canons with their gray fur capes--even that man of
ivory and iron, Leo XIII., carried aloft in the Sedia Gestatoria, on the
shoulders of six crimson lackeys, the triple crown blazing on his head.

On the 31st of May I happened in to Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, a dear
church, built on the ruins of an ancient temple of Minerva. Fra Angelico
is buried here (how can his native Fiesole spare his bones)? There is an
ancient Greek sarcophagus, with Hercules taming the Nemean lion in
relief; there is a picture of Torquemada, the terrible confessor of
Isabella; there is an adorable flower-bespattered tomb carved by that
sweetest of statuaries, Mino da Fiesole, and a hundred other “features”!
In the piazza outside stands an engaging marble elephant, with the
smallest of Egyptian obelisks on his back; altogether the place is a
good example of what one is forever harking back to,--Rome’s golden
blending of things Greek, Egyptian, classic, pagan, early Christian,
renaissance, and rococo!

In the pulpit who should be thundering away, whacking the dusty crimson
cushions till the beautiful old carved pulpit shook, but our friend the
_parroco_! He seemed so much in earnest that I paid two cents for a
chair and sat down to listen to him. His subject was the erudition of
Mary, “the most learned woman,” he said, “who has ever lived. Her
knowledge of languages--she spoke at least twenty--proves this. She is
known to have talked with Moabites, Samaritans, Egyptians, and other
persons, to the number of twenty different nationalities.” The
hypothesis that some of these persons may have spoken Aramaic, Mary’s
own language, was not admitted by the preacher.

Coming out after church, I overheard one well-dressed _contadina--senza
cappello_ (without a hat), a social grade is marked by the wearing of a
hat--say to another peasant woman,--

“My son has preached a new sermon on the Madonna on each of the
thirty-one days of her month. He has done well.” I thought he had!

It was the _parroco’s_ mother. She had the same soft dark eyes, the same
mouth, the same smile--the mother for whose sake, as he himself told us,
he became a priest. “_Poverella_,” he said, “it was her wish; I am all
that she has; how could I disappoint her? and she believes that one day
I shall receive the cardinal’s hat!”

He had come as he always does, the Saturday before Easter, to bless the
house. Pompilia and Filomena had been on their marrow-bones for a week,
rubbing, scrubbing, polishing, setting the house in order for the rite.
On the kitchen dresser the prescribed food to be eaten on Easter Sunday
was neatly arranged: eggs and _mortadella_ for breakfast; lamb, green
peas, a certain broth made with lemon and eggs, served only on this day
of the year, and the sweet dish already prepared,--what the Italians
call _zuppa Inglese_, and we call Italian cream! In a vase were
carefully preserved the blossoms of wall flowers, stocks, and violets,
from the sepulchre of Holy Thursday at the church near by in the Piazza
Scossa Cavalli; these, according to tradition, must deck our Easter
dinner table. It was four o’clock when the _parroco_ reached our house.
He was very smart in his neat beretta,--a high, square, black silk
cap,--his best white linen cotta trimmed with handsome lace, freshly
starched and ironed. It was “done up,” I’ll be bound, by that good brown
mother of his. He was followed by an imp of a boy with the oddest snub
nose, and hair growing almost down to his eyebrows, who made the
responses and carried the silver holy-water vessel by a pair of
enchanting wrought handles. We formed a procession, headed by the
_parroco_ and the imp; next came the _padrona di casa_ (myself); behind
me walked Pompilia the cook in the time-honored striped black silk which
I had given to Nena, and she, “_per miseria_,” had sold to the cook;
after her, Filomena, the prettiest girl in the Borgo, in her best blue
frock and a rose in her hair; the procession was brought up in the rear
by Nena,--the witch, the snuff-taker, the footman, the mainstay and
comfort of the whole household. She had borrowed a clean apron, smoothed
her rough, gray hair, and redeemed her coral beads and gold earrings
from pawn at the Monte di Pieta. There were flowers everywhere in the
house, the terrace had been rifled, roses, roses, roses, red, pink,
saffron. In the very best vase were a single white rose from my mother’s
favorite tree, the Catherine Cook, and one mammoth pink one from Captain
Christy. We marched first to the salon, the most honorable room. The
_parroco_ dipped a silver sprinkler in the lustral water, which he
sprinkled in four directions, north, south, east, west, saying as he did
so, “Bless, O Lord, this place, that in it may be health, chastity,
victory, virtue, humility, goodness, sweetness, the fulness of law and
thanksgiving, and may this blessing abide in this place and upon all
those who dwell herein.”

Whether by chance or intention, a few drops fell upon a group of family
portraits hanging on the wall. Our dear sunny chamber was next blessed,
then the dining-room, the den, finally the servants’ quarters and the
kitchen. In each room the prayer was repeated, the water sprinkled. The
_parroco_ was in a hurry, he could not wait to taste a _gocciatino di
vino_ or a bit of the _pizze_ Filomena’s mother had sent us from her
home in Umbria,--there were many more houses to be blessed before
nightfall. We went with him to the door, shook hands, slipping into his
palm a small envelope--the imp carried openly the silver plate in which
I dropped his share of the modest offering, then with hasty bows and
smiles and “_buona pasqua_ (happy Easter)” the pair of them clattered
down the long _travertina_ staircase, past the recumbent Etruscan
ladies, with their button-like eyes, who guard our stair, leaving me to
enjoy our clean, sweet-smelling house. On the terrace an hour later,
drinking in the glory of the sunset, came an odd sense of the fitness
and familiarity of it all. This blessing the house, the food, the
penates, the tools, the effigies of ancestors is the Little Ambervalia
Pater describes so deliciously in Marius, the Epicurean; there is, too,
an echo in it of the Vestalia, the festival in honor of Vesta, held at
the house of the Vestal Virgins on the 9th of June, “after which the
temple was closed for five days for ceremonial cleansing!” At home, in
God’s own country, the ceremony survives under the name of spring
cleaning. It was a wonderful stormy sunset; St. Peter’s and the piazza
seen in this ferment of light and shadow recalled a curious allegorical
design of Bernini’s, in which the two curving wings of his colonnade are
made to suggest the arms of Christ’s Vicar, spread out to enfold the
world, Angelo’s dome being worked in as a sort of papal tiara floating
over the whole.



XIII

THE QUEEN’S VISIT


PALAZZO RUSTICUCCI, ROME, Easter, 1900.

“Buona Pasqua!” said Filomena, when we came into breakfast this morning.
Her Easter offering lay on the table, two hard-boiled eggs in a little
basket of twisted bread at each plate. Soon after, Pompilia brought her
inevitable _regalo_, a pair of lilac tissue paper fans (she has a
relative who works in the paper factory). As I passed the door
Pompilia’s annual basket of flowers, sent by her cousins every Easter,
was brought in. Ignazio, the gardener, met us on the terrace with a pot
of the biggest violets I have ever seen.

“Only yourself, Signora, and the Princess Doria, in all Rome, have these
magnificent violets, the last novelty from Londra. The Prince has just
introduced them. His gardener is my friend; _così_ I am able to offer
this _bel’ vasino di fiori_!”

A little later, Lorenzo, Villegas’ factotum, arrived with a basket of
lemons from the Villino garden, covered with their own glossy green
leaves and intoxicating blossoms; the petals are thick, pink outside,
white inside, like orange flowers, only larger, and with a less cloying
perfume.

We were up on the terrace in time to see the Host carried through the
street; that was not allowed when we first came to live in the Borgo
Nuovo. Little by little the old picturesque ceremonies of the Church are
creeping back. It is a pretty sight. First march lovely little girls in
white, scattering flowers; then come acolytes, deacons, young clerics--I
am hazy about their titles--swinging censers, carrying the crucifix and
banner; the arch-priest bearing the Sacrament in a golden monstrance,
over which he holds protectingly the sides of his long, stiff,
embroidered vestment, above his head a white and gold _baldacchino_
supported by four young priests. The whole procession, children,
acolytes, priests, attendant women in black veils, went singing across
the piazza of St. Peter’s and down our street under a rain of pink and
green disks of tissue paper thrown from the windows in lieu of flowers.
Across the street Giuseppe, the baker, in white cap and drawers, naked
to the waist, stood at his shop door cooling his heated body. Behind him
in the dark shop as the boy opened the oven door and fed the flame with
armfuls of brushwood, we caught the roar and blaze of fagots in a fiery
cavern.

Giuseppe, a radical (the _parroco_ says a Freemason, that means sure
damnation) stood at his door as the procession passed and nodded to his
little girl, the prettiest of the attendant cherubim, dropping rosebuds.
It is pleasant to see one’s daughter chosen before others, and religion
is an excellent thing in woman, according to Giuseppe’s philosophy. The
crisp, appetizing smell of his hot bread suggested luncheon, which, in
honor of the _festa_, was served on the terrace. The atmosphere has been
ecstatically clear and golden all day, the view sublime, snow-clad peaks
in the distance, the foreground purple, hazy, delicious. The bells of
St. Peter’s (silent since Holy Thursday) have made constant music in the
air. A fine day, with a trifle too much breeze for dignity; it blows the
girls’ curls and draperies, even the scant skirts of the young priest
pacing back and forth on the monastery terrace across the way, breviary
in hand. He always ignores our presence, looks through us as if we were
made of glass; but I catch him gazing with longing eyes at our roses and
lilies that nod and gossip behind their screen of ivy; at the passion
flowers and honeysuckles, haunts of the bee and butterfly. He knows as
well as we do every stage of our roof garden’s history since that day
six years ago when we potted the pink ivy geranium and the white
carnation from the Campo di Fiori, the beginning of this earthly
paradise. We have had a great deal of rain lately, which has been good
for the yellow and orange-colored lichens that enamel the tiled roofs
all about us, and alas! very good for slugs and snails. As to wall
flowers, they simply ramp from every crack and cranny of the gorgeous
_cinque cento_ cornice, with its sharp-cut egg and dart (symbols of life
and death), fragments of which still cling to the inner walls of our
courtyard. The wild flowers run riot over the Corridojo di Castello, the
quaint old fortified passage leading from the Vatican to the Castel
Sant’ Angelo. The Corridojo, built of tufa stone, is two stories high;
the upper story is open like a loggia, the lower closed, with little
slits to let in the light. Just behind our Palazzo the Corridojo
crosses a back street by an enchanting arch, with the arms of the Pope
who built or restored it carved on a stone escutcheon. In the old days
the passage was used in time of danger as an escape from the Vatican to
the fortress of Sant’ Angelo; the Pope himself always kept the keys,
according to Patsy, who dropped in for tea and _maritozzi_ and gave us a
discourse on the subject.

“Who keeps the keys now?” I asked.

“_Chi lo sa?_ Since 1870 the Corridojo has been walled up. I once got a
peep into it. ’T is going to wrack and ruin, which is a shame and
disgrace.”

“Whose fault is it?”

“_Chi lo sa?_ Lay it to the municipality,--they deserve a few extra
curses thrown in for luck, on account of the artificial rockwork with
which they are defacing the Pincio and the Janiculum.”

“Perhaps the Corridojo is no-man’s-land, now that the Vatican belongs to
the Pope and the fortress to the King?”

“_Chi lo sa?_” said Patsy again. “When the Italians came to Rome they
meant to leave the Borgo under the temporal control of the papacy.
Consequently at the first plebiscite (October 2, 1870) no urn was
provided for the Borgo’s vote. You don’t suppose a fellow like that,” he
pointed to the baker, “would let such a little thing keep him out of
United Italy? The first returns of the day were brought in from this,
the fourteenth, _rione_ (ward), by two strapping fellows, who marched up
to the Capitol carrying between them a big urn with the votes from the
Borgo. I have heard that your friend the baker’s father was one of
them.”

“And this morning that man’s granddaughter walked in the procession of
the Sacrament!”

“For the matter of that, here comes Prince Nero’s grandson wearing the
King’s uniform. Both Blacks and Whites, _Dio grazie_, are fast fading
into Grays.”

Beppino, very stiff in his military togs, was shown up on the terrace by
Nena the shabby, who always manages to open the door to fashionable
visitors.

“How do you like your service, Beppino? Your uniform is very becoming,”
I began.

“I don’t like it at all! Fancy being obliged to clean one’s own horse,
to polish one’s own boots--it’s not to be endured!”

It has to be endured; and, moreover, Beppino is enormously improved by
his six months’ endurance of the obligatory military service. Those
fiery brown eyes of his have grown serious.

“Is it true that you voted at the last election?” asked Patsy.

“It is true,” said Beppino.

“How did your grandfather take it?” Patsy persisted.

“I asked the Prince’s leave,” Beppino replied. “He said that for thirty
years he had obeyed the Pope and abstained from voting, that he was too
old to change his politics, but that I was free to do as I liked.”

“How do you account for such an extraordinary change of heart?”

“It’s all the Queen’s doing; she is so good; she is so clever. We
Italians owe more to her than to any one alive to-day!”

Beppino is the son of the son of one of the stoutest pillars of the
Church.

“_Avanti la caccia_ (On with the chase)!” Patsy and I had been snail
hunting when Beppino came up.

“Here is a sharp stick; if you run it round under the edge of the
flower-pot you will get them quicker. Snail, I condemn you to the
parabolic death!” Beppino threw a large fat snail out over the terrace
wall. “That’s the easiest way; it spares our feelings and gives the
snail a chance for his life. He disappears in a parabolic curve; he may
fall upon a passing load of hay and be carried away to batten upon other
rose-leaves.”

Suddenly, like thunder out of a clear sky, there appeared upon the
peaceful terrace the _parroco_, with two black-a-vised French priests,
preceded and announced by Nena. The _parroco_ apologized; he said the
gentlemen were anxious to see our view. The elder Frenchman never looked
at the view at all, but examined the walls of the palace in a way I did
not like. The _parroco_ is always a welcome, if scarcely an easy guest.
I hated his friends; they glanced with so indifferent an eye at the
flowers and seemed so much more interested in the chimneys that J. and
Lorenzo had cleverly contrived to keep me warm. When at last the three
black figures disappeared down the terrace stairs, we other three drew a
long breath.

“Good riddance,” said Patsy.

“You have not seen the last of their cassocks nor them,” said Beppino
(he had an English nurse and governess, and speaks rather better English
than most people). “I believe they mean to buy the palazzo over your
heads. When will your lease be up?”

“In September; but we have the right to renew.”

“No Roman lease holds in case of sale,” said Beppino. “You will find
that clause in your contract. You will see I am right. Some time ago
_Sua Santita_ requested such religious orders as had no house in Rome to
establish one here. During the _Anno Santo_ many have acted on the hint
and bought property in Rome. I heard my grandfather say there were some
French monks looking out for a place near the Vatican. This is just the
sort of thing that would suit them.”

Was not that a thunder clap? Characteristic too that Beppino, the astute
Roman, should first suspect it. When J. came home from the studio and
heard of the priests’ visit, he said: “Beppino is right; the Palazzo
Rusticucci will be transformed into a monastery. They have already
turned Mr. Vedder out of his studio after twenty years; we shall be the
next to go.”

I can’t and won’t believe that this may be our last Easter here. Just
as terrace and house have grown to fit us like soul and body, to be
turned out into the bare, ugly world of hotels,--impossible!

The other day when I was at the studio J. told me that in consequence of
the disappearance of ten francs he had finally decided to part with
Pietro. He has often arrived at this decision before, but the creature,
with a sort of uncanny second sight, always disarms him just in time by
some act of faithfulness, some pretty attention; for Pietro is one of
those Italians with a real genius for service. I happened to be at the
studio when he applied to J. for the place and overheard their
conversation.

“Signorino,” Pietro began, “you are my unique hope; do not abandon me,
the poor _disgraziato_ you have befriended so long: I regard you as my
father.” (Pietro is at least twenty years older than J.)

“Where have you been all this time?” J. asked.

“Signorino, it is necessary for me to tell you the truth, or some
unsympathetic person might do so: I have been in prison, though I am
quite innocent.”

“What were you charged with?”

“It was that affair with Fagiolo the model; you perhaps remember.”

“The time you bit Fagiolo in the leg and gave him such a _coltellata_
(stab) that he had to be sent to San Giacomo (the hospital)? I
remember.”

“_La storia era molto esaggerata, però non potevo mai vedere quell’uomo_
(The story was much exaggerated, but I never could bear the sight of
that man).”

J. remembered the affair, and thought Pietro had been rather hardly
dealt with.

“Since I was discharged it is impossible to find employment; nobody
wants a man, however innocent, who has been in prison.”

“Where is your wife?”

“_Aimé!_ was there ever so unfortunate a man? Zenobia, who, as you know,
is a good seamstress and my sole means of support, broke her leg
yesterday; this morning they carried her to the hospital of the Santo
Spirito.”

J. engaged him on the spot, and Pietro has been in charge of the studio
ever since. He has done very well; the only trouble has been that small
sums of money, cigarettes, and boxes of matches are always
disappearing. J. has spoken several times to Pietro about it. He always
denies having taken anything. J. feels very half hearted about sending
him away; he says that it will be impossible for the man to get another
situation if he dismisses him for stealing. Besides, except for the
pilfering, Pietro is the very man for the place; he takes good care of
the studio, knows all about cleaning palettes and washing brushes, keeps
the courtyard neat and full of such growing things as can exist with the
little sun that penetrates to it, and is devoted to J.’s happy family,
which just now consists of Checca, the lame jackdaw, bought from some
boys in the street who were tormenting her, a pair of ducks, a stray
black dog, and the prettiest maltese kitten you ever saw.

The jackdaw, a most diverting bird, is as curious as a coon. The other
day she flew up on the easel from behind and pecked a hole in the
picture on which J. was working. She put her closed bill through the
canvas, then opened it wide, which made a straight up and down tear, to
which the creature put her ridiculous eye and peeped through to see what
J. was doing.

“Do you really think Pietro is the thief?” I asked. “It would be too
suicidal in him to throw away his last chance!”

“Just what Pietro says,” answered J., “but who else can it be? There is
a Yale lock to the door with two keys; I keep one, Pietro the other.”

While we were talking about him, Pietro came in to move an old stove
which had stood in the corner of the studio all winter without being
lighted. J. is sending it with other household stuff to the auction
room. As Pietro moved the stove its door swung open and out rolled a
quantity of cigarettes, matches, silver and copper coin, paint rags,
orange peel, and among the rubbish a brand new ten-franc note.

“Caw, Caw!” screamed Checca, flapping across the floor and scolding at
Pietro.

“_Ah! Madonna dei setti dolori!_” Pietro, swearing horribly, fell upon
his knees, clasped his hands, invoked every holy thing he knew.

“_Santa Maria, eccomi vindicato! Ah ladrone! Ah birborne_ (Behold me
vindicated. O thief! O villain)!”

“Caw, Caw!” screamed Checca, pecking at Pietro’s legs. He was at first
ready to wring her neck; then he grew lachrymose and tender.

“_Ah! Ah! Pietro sfortunato! Guardi, Signora mia_, was I not born
unlucky? First I am sent to prison on the false oath of a rascally man.
_Adesso, anche la gazza m’inganna, mi perseguita_, (Now even the jackdaw
deceives me, persecutes me)!”

Plumped down on his knees there in the middle of the studio, poor Pietro
began to cry like a baby. It ended in his getting the ten-franc note as
a _mancia_, and Checca’s being so stuffed with good things that she is
in a state of coma and on the verge of apoplexy. Truth really is
stranger than fiction. I never before had much faith in the Jackdaw of
Rheims.


June 10, 1900.

As we sat at dinner last night a messenger from the Casa Reale was
announced. J. went out to receive him in person. He had brought a letter
from a great personage at court to say that the Queen would come to the
studio the next day to see J.’s decoration for the Boston Public
Library. That was rather short notice for such an honor, but we did all
we could to make the old barrack of a studio fit to receive the dear and
lovely lady. We were up at dawn. Pietro had already turned the hose on
the brick paved floors and stone steps. The first thing in the morning
we were warned by the police that no one, not even our servants, must
know of the visit beforehand, so we gave it out that Lord Curry, the
British Ambassador, was coming to the studio, which was quite true. J.
had called up the Embassy, and Lord Curry had promised, by telephone, to
be on hand.

We telephoned the Signora Villegas asking if she could spare Lorenzo,
who turned up at eleven with, I should think, every flower the Villino
garden contained. The bouquet for the Queen I made myself of flowers
from the terrace, gardenias, passion flowers, and maidenhair fern. We
sent over to the studio from the house the fine old Portuguese leather
armchair in which my mother sat to Villegas for her portraits some rugs,
and the gold screens Isabel and Larz brought us from Japan.

You never saw a more squalid street than the Borgo Sant’ Angelo. I very
much doubt if the Queen had ever entered so queer a door as the little
antique green studio door with the modern Yale lock. The studio is up
two long flights of stairs, with an iron railing, quite like a prison
stair. If we had been given longer notice we could have done more to
make things presentable; but that was a mere detail. The main thing was
that the afternoon was fine, the light perfect. The days here are so
much longer than at home that the hour named, six o’clock, was the very
best in the twenty-four to see the pictures. We had never really
believed that the Queen would come to the studio, though we had heard of
her interest in seeing the work. There is a sort of tradition that the
royal family very rarely come over to the Borgo, out of regard for the
feelings of the Pope. During the day one and another secret service man
in plain clothes arrived in the Borgo on their bicycles, and lounged
about the street corners or in the cafés. At five several _guardie_ in
uniform arrived. We went over to the studio at half-past five in order
to be in time to receive Lord Curry. J. went by the Borgo Nuovo and
stopped at the front of the Palazzo Giraud Torlonia (the studio, you
remember, is in the rear of the palace, with an entrance on the back
street, Borgo Sant’ Angelo) to ask the proud young porter of the
Torlonia to open the studio door, and generally stand by us. The
Haywards, who live on the _piano nobile_, are the swells of the Borgo;
they pay the proud young porter his wages, and they are in close
relation with the Vatican. Fortunately they were out of town and never
knew that we borrowed their porter to open the door to the Queen.

“The _Ambasciatore Inglese_ and other _personnaggi_ of importance are to
visit my studio presently; do me the favor to open the door for them,”
said J.

“_Volontiere, Signore mio, un momento_; I will change my coat and be
with you instantly!”

The nearest way from the front of the Torlonia to the back is by the
Vicolo dell’ Erba, a narrow little alley which runs beside the palace.
We never use it--’t is so evil smelling, badly paved, and generally
poverty stricken--unless we are in a great hurry. J. being pressed for
time naturally took the _vicolo_. He happened to be wearing a red
cravat,--in Italy, especially in Rome, supposed to be the badge of the
anarchists and avoided by the Romans, and, one would fancy, by the
anarchists accordingly. Of course all the _guardie_ of our quarter know
the _pittore Inglese_ by sight, but the extra ones detailed for the day
did not. Hurrying through the _vicolo_, J. ran round the corner into
the Borgo Sant’ Angelo, and into the arms of one of these extraneous
_guardie_, ordered to be on the lookout for suspicious characters. His
eye caught the red cravat.

“_Scusi, Signore_; where might you be going in such a hurry?”

“I am going to No. 125, Borgo Sant’ Angelo.”

“You have business of importance there, or you would not be in so much
haste?”

“Yes; I am late for an appointment.”

“With whom?”

“That is a private matter and one which does not concern----”

At this hectic moment the proud young porter came hurrying along the
_vicolo_, buttoning his gold-laced coat as he ran. He took in the
situation at a glance, and with the exquisite tact of his people went
bail for the _pittore Inglese_ without seeming to do so.

“Is there anything I can do for you in the studio, Signore, before their
excellencies arrive?” he asked.

“You know this gentleman?” demanded the _guardia_ suspiciously.

“Know him! I have known him all my life! It is the gentleman who
occupies the studio in the rear of the palace.”

“A thousand pardons, Signore,” said the _guardia_, with a magnificent
military salute. J. had to thank the porter for not having been detained
as “a suspicious person” during the time of the Queen’s visit to his
studio.

A minute or two before the appointed hour we all went down into the
vestibule. There was an odd hushed feeling in the street: a watering
cart had just passed, the square gray cobble-stones were still wet, the
air moist. Pietro had found time to pull up the weeds and grass from the
pavement (worn into ruts by centuries of cart-wheels) in front of our
door, and to clear away the bits of water-melon rind which the boys of
the Borgo use as roller skates, in a game that I believe is indigenous
to our quarter. Just as the bells of the Castle Sant’ Angelo were
ringing six, we heard the jingling of chains and the sound of tramping
horses. We were all on the sidewalk as the carriage with the scarlet
liveries drew up before the studio. The proud young porter, his hand on
the knob of the studio door, made the most sumptuous bow as the footman
opened the door of the landeau. Lord Curry handed out the Queen,

[Illustration: _Dante_

From a pastel drawing in the Collection of Mrs. David Kimball]

[Illustration: From a Copley Print. Copyright, 1899, by Curtis &
Cameron, Publishers, Boston.]

presented J., then gave her his arm and led her up the dreadful long
stair. Her lady in waiting, the Duchess Massimo, and the gentleman of
the court in attendance, followed, looking aghast and rather scornful at
the queer steps; but the royal lady never flinched; she walked up the
stairway with as gay and light a step as if she were treading the red
carpet of the Quirinale. Once in the studio one lost sight of the royal
personage in the _connoisseur_, the lover and patron of art. It is no
wonder that the artists look upon her as their friend. To her art is one
of the serious concerns of life, one of the matters which it is her duty
as a sovereign, as the mother of her people, to foster by every means in
her power.

She looked at the decoration from every point of view, asked many
questions about its destination. She knew of the Boston Public Library,
and said many pleasant things of it, and of J.’s ceiling for it. She
liked the funny old studio, with its big fireplace, its enormous window,
and explored it with the fresh curiosity of a young girl. She asked what
this and what that picture was, insisted on being shown canvases that
stood with their faces to the wall. J.’s drawing of Dante and the death
mask from which it was made interested her deeply; she is evidently a
student of the divine poet. The portrait of the Duke of Cambridge which
J. made last spring was standing on an easel. She laughed heartily when
she saw it, and said, “It is so exactly like the old man that it makes
me laugh.”

They stayed half an hour. Part of that time the Queen sat in the old
Portuguese leather chair which our own dear mother queen always sat in
when she was with us. As they went away, the Duchess Massimo said to me,
“I assure you the Queen has been much interested and much pleased.”

We all went down to the carriage; the Borgo was one compact mass of
people. We watched the carriage drive away, caught the sweet parting
smile of our lovely visitor, and then went back to the studio to talk it
all over. In a few minutes two of our best friends turned up. They had
come over by chance to have tea at the studio, and had received quite a
sensation at seeing the royal carriage with the scarlet liveries
standing before the shabby old green door and the Borgo crammed with the
Roman populace.


July 16, 1900.

Saturday evening as we sat at dinner another messenger from the Casa
Reale was announced. He brought a letter from the Countess Villamarina,
the Queen’s maid of honor, to J., in which she begged to send him, in
the name of her “august sovereign,” the accompanying jewel for his wife,
in memory of her visit to the studio. The jewel is a medallion of dark
blue enamel, with M., the Queen’s initial, in diamonds, with a royal
crown above it. On the reverse are the arms of Savoy, the red cross on
the white field, the whole surrounded by a hoop of diamonds hanging from
a bar of diamonds, set as a brooch, and very elegant.

J. says that we cannot afford to stay in the Borgo if we remain in Rome,
we must move to a new quarter. Ever since the Queen’s visit, the
_gobbo_, our favorite cabby, has called him Signor Marchese, and expects
a larger _mancia_ than he can afford to give.



XIV

STRAWBERRIES OF NEMI


LAKE OF NEMI, July 8, 1900.

The _fruttajola_ of the Piazza San Lorenzo in Lucina, and the waiter of
the Café di Roma are responsible for our coming to Nemi. I like to
linger chaffering in the _fruttajola’s_ shop (at this season it smells
of strawberries and apricots) not only because she has the best fruit in
Rome but because she has three of the prettiest daughters--the youngest
looks as the Fornarina, the baker’s daughter beloved of Raphael, might
have looked. When the _fruttajola_ was young she must have been even
handsomer than her daughters, though their cheeks seem like duplicates
of the peaches and nectarines they handle so daintily; she has an
intensity of expression, a look of power that none of her girls have.

“You tell me these strawberries are from Nemi,” I said; “how is that
possible? For the past month you have sold me strawberries from Nemi,
always from Nemi! All over Rome I see the strawberries of Nemi
advertised. Is it likely now that a little town like Nemi can supply
such a great city as Rome with strawberries all these many weeks?”

You see I remembered what the Tuscan wine grower said to us about the
wine of Chianti. The _fruttajola_ tossed her handsome head. “Signora,
you have but to see Nemi to understand!” she said, laying on the counter
a little blue paper box she had been making and lining with grape leaves
as she talked and which she now filled with purple figs and yellow
_nespole_. That night, wishing to give our servants “an evening off,” we
dined at the Café di Roma. Of course we had the inevitable dishes of
this season, chicken, hunter’s fashion (braised, with green peppers),
salad of tomato and endive, finishing off with strawberries from Nemi,
and of course the cream was too thin. J. asked Leandro, the waiter who
always serves us, if it was not possible to get better cream. He has
often asked the same question before.

“Signore,” said Leandro, “this cream comes from the dairy next door. We
always order the best for you, and this is what they send us. Why do
you not yourself step in and speak to the proprietor? He will take more
pains for you than for me.” Pricked by memories of Jersey cream which
those ravishing strawberries evoked, J. sought the _padrone_ of the
dairy.

“Is it not possible to have thicker cream than that you send to the
restaurant?” he asked. The man looked surprised. “The Signore desires
thicker cream? Why, of course, it is possible to have the cream as thick
as he wishes, only have a moment’s patience.” As he spoke the _padrone_
took up a fine hair sieve, put into it a lump of some soft white stuff
which he mashed with a big spoon into a paste; this he passed through
the sieve, every now and then letting a few drops fall out of the spoon
to show how thick the cream had become.

“Is that thick enough, Signore?” he finally asked.

“Quite thick enough, thank you,” said poor J. grimly. “Will you do me
the favor of telling me what you use to thicken the cream?”

“But surely! Various things are used; the best is this that you see, the
brains of a young calf nicely boiled.”

When J. came back to the restaurant he said that, on the whole, he
preferred his strawberries with wine and sugar, as the Romans eat them.
The waiter pushed a flask hung on a swivel towards him; J. drowned his
plate in a flood of red Genzano. Isn’t it odd that in Roman restaurants
wine is sold by weight? Leandro weighed the flask before putting it on
the table, and again when he took it off after dinner.

In order to make conversation I said, “Leandro, do you know where these
strawberries really come from?”

“Do I know? They are from my own town, it may be from our own land! the
proprietor of this restaurant buys oil, fruit, and wine of my uncle, who
lives at Nemi. I myself have a little property at Nemi. The oil the
Signora had of me came from there. Ah! you should see Nemi, you should
eat the strawberries fresh from the vines.”

That settled it; we had been promising ourselves a little Fourth of July
outing somewhere in the country, so the next day we took the train for
Albano and drove over to Nemi, where we are decently settled at the
Trattoria Desanctis.

Nemi is an enchanting little mediæval town perched high above the edge
of the Lake of Nemi called by the ancients the Mirror of Diana. Sitting
in the terraced garden of the old castle of the Orsini, near our inn,
you look down the steep sides of the crater of an extinct volcano, over
three hundred feet, to the lake, a big sparkling sapphire, three miles
in circumference, lying at the bottom of a green enamelled cup. There is
no soil in the world, the landlord says, quite as rich as this volcanic
soil. Every inch of the land is highly cultivated, and here, _here_ on
the sloping sides of the old volcano grow the wild and the tame
strawberries of Nemi. I trust it is not necessary to tell you that the
wild ones are by far the best. We clambered down a steep path jewelled
with wild flowers to the very edge of Diana’s mirror. I dipped my hand
in the clear cold water. It is hard to realize that where this gemlike
lake now sparkles in the sunlight there was once a pit of fire, that the
sides where the pleasant strawberries grow were once coated with a
velvet bloom of sulphur like the crater of Vesuvius. We turned and
looked up the slope; a breeze ruffled the green leaves and exposed the
vines beneath, laden with myriads of strawberries, red as rubies. As the
_fruttajola_ foretold, I now understand how the little town of Nemi
supplies the big city of Rome with strawberries.

[Illustration: _The Palace of the Orsini at Nemi_

From a photograph]

[Illustration]

The lake is more than one hundred feet deep and is drained by an
artificial emissarium--ancient Roman, of course. The peasants say that
the lake has no bottom. As there is a sort of whirlpool in the middle
from the suction of the water into the emissarium, it is considered
unsafe for boating or bathing. There is a story of a mad Englishman who
tried to swim across and was never seen again, his body having been
sucked down into the bowels of the earth--not a bad way of disposing of
it. A few years ago they found the remains of a Roman state barge at the
bottom of the lake. The bronze ornaments and even part of the wooden
walls were intact. The barge was presumably used as a float in some
imperial pageant of old Rome.

At sunset the women and girls who had been busy all day gathering fruit
began to pass by our inn, bearing vast loads of fragrant strawberries on
their heads. The berries are picked into flat wide baskets with handles,
through which a long stick is passed, joining together the ten or twelve
baskets that constitute a load. As each sun-browned wench trudged past,
our eyes were rejoiced with a superb flare of scarlet, and our
noses--ah! nothing in this world has ever tasted so good as the
strawberries of Nemi smell.

Just where the white highroad, following the line of the old crater,
curves and is hidden by a group of dark ilex trees, the women halted
beside the line of gay painted carts waiting to carry the strawberries
to Rome. We discovered the _carretta_ of Leandro’s uncle, a fine affair
painted blue and yellow, with long shafts and a comfortable seat beneath
a red and white striped awning. Oreste, the driver, a shrewd peasant, in
spite of his loutish, grumpy manner, has a certain family resemblance to
his cousin the waiter, but how contact with the world has sharpened
Leandro’s wits, polished his manners! Oreste and Leandro! Don’t you love
the classic names? They linger here in the country and help to bring
back to you Theocritus and the golden age of Magna Grecia.

“At what hour do you start?” J. asked Oreste.

“At ten o’clock.”

“It must be a very long drive; do you not get dreadfully tired? what
time do you reach Rome?”

Oreste answered my remarks in the order they were put.

“The distance is twenty miles; when I am tired I sleep; with luck I
shall reach the gates of Rome by four o’clock in the morning.”

“Who minds the cart while you sleep?”

“Lupetto here;” he patted the dearest little dog on the seat beside him.
Lupetto looks like a young fox, he has the brightest eyes, the smallest
pointed ears, and a soft furry tan coat clipped like a lion’s.

“As long as Lupetto is quiet and I hear this music,” he touched with his
long carter’s whip the string of bells round the horse’s neck, “I doze
in peace. When the bells stop jingling or Lupetto barks I rouse myself
to find out what is the matter.”

“Have you ever been robbed?”

“That sometimes happens with a load of wine, but with fruit, no.
Everybody knows that I never carry money and that I have a good knife!”
he drew the knife from his boot and ran his thumb along the blade,
testing the sharpness of the edge.

The moon, a golden sickle, hung low in the sky, the big soft stars
seemed nearer to the earth than usual. Lupetto gave an impatient little
bark, the horse stirred uneasily, jingling his bells. The last basket of
strawberries had been loaded on the cart; it was clearly time to be
off. Oreste gathered up his reins and whistled to his horse.

“_Felice notte_ (A happy night).” He grunted the pretty greeting to us
over his shoulder awkwardly. After watching Oreste with his two best
friends, his horse and his dog, start on the long night journey to Rome,
we went back to the castle garden, where our landlord treated us to
anecdotes touching that interesting family, the Orsini.

Everything comes to him who knows how to wait! Ever since we first went
to live at the Palazzo Rusticucci I have longed to climb to the top of
Monte Cavo, the highest of the Alban hills. From our terrace you can see
the front of the old Passionist monastery on its summit glinting white
in the sun. Yesterday the long waiting came to an end and I have seen my
Carcassonne! We reached the summit after a two hours’ walk up the old
Via Triumphalis--the steep paved way along which the Roman generals once
passed to celebrate the military triumphs at the temple of Jupiter
Latiaris, which stood at the top of Monte Cavo. It is a wonderful road;
in some places the old basalt pavement is as good as on the day when it
was laid, some time “before the year one”! Truly a glorious walk, with
sudden splendid vistas over plain and mountains, and cool odorous groves
where we found the wild heartsease, sensitive ethereal flowers, poor
relations of our fat, stall-fed purple and gold terrace pansies. A good
bath of nature, such as we had climbing the flanks of Monte Cavo, makes
man and all his works--even the higher cultivation of flowers--seem a
vain thing. We passed the vast crater of another extinct volcano called
the Camp of Hannibal, who according to local tradition once bivouacked
here. In a few days the garrison will come from Rome for its annual
summer camping out, and Beppino, our fascinating young friend with the
burning brown eyes, will pitch his tent possibly on the very spot where
Hannibal slept.

The temple of Jupiter is gone; its ruins were destroyed by Cardinal
York, one of the last of the Stuarts, in 1777, when he built the
monastery. Was not that trying of him? and so inappropriate too, for
whatever their faults may have been the Stuarts have always been
protectors of the arts. Half of the monastery is now a government
meteorological station, the other half an inn, which concerned us more.
We ordered supper and while waiting for it moused about in the old
garden till we found the little that remains of the temple, a few
fragments of the foundation and some pieces of marble roughly built into
the garden wall. “_Sic transit gloria mundi_,” the temple is gone, the
monastery too; meanwhile remain eggs in black butter for hungry
travellers, and the imperishable beauty of the view. The wise old monks
always chose the most magnificent sites for their monasteries. Good air
and a fine outlook were what they held to be essential; they found the
ideal site, and somehow screwed up the real to fit it. Do you know a
better rule for building one’s house? I do not.

How do you suppose it felt after having been grilled alive on the stones
of Rome for a month, to borrow a shawl from the landlady, in order to
sit out after sunset and enjoy the wonderful prospect? Below, at the
foot of Monte Cavo, lay the lakes of Albano and Nemi, darkly blue where
they were not silver, and far, far off, a pale blue bubble on the
horizon, gleamed the dome of St. Peter’s. If we could have borrowed a
spyglass from the meteorological bureau, I am sure we could have made
out the white columns of our terrace in the shadow of the great dome.
When it grew too cold to sit out, the landlady showed us to a pair of
tiny stone cells. In the watches of the night I knocked on the thick
wall that separated us, “for company,” as some lonely Passionist monk
may have rapped a greeting to a brother in the dark winter nights of
long ago. In spite of the odor of sanctity (stronger here than I have
ever known it), hardness of bed, flabbiness of pillow, in spite of the
keen chill before dawn, that one cool night in the old Passionist
monastery will remain a delicious memory when the hot pavements of a
Roman July are forgotten!

Early the next morning we made the descent by a short cut, a steep path
that brought us out on the highway not far from Nemi.

Near the town we overtook Oreste on his way back from Rome. He had drawn
up his cart in an olive grove and was examining the fruit on the trees.
Lupetto, whose turn it was to sleep, lay snugly curled up on the seat.
We sat down to rest in the pleasant shade of the gray green leaves.
There are twelve aged olive trees in the grove, and another larger and
more picturesque than the rest originally belonging to the same group,
standing alone, on the other side of the white high road. The trunk of
this old tree is almost hollow, a mere shell of shaggy bark. The knotted
roots reach out an amazing distance from the stem before they grip the
earth. The twisted trunk and limbs look like a tortured human being with
uplifted arms, and suggest the men turned to trees of the Inferno.

“This is the finest olive tree I have seen in Italy,” J. said. Oreste
gloomily assented.

“It is a noble tree worth any three of the others. See how many olives
it has. Leandro will come soon to gather them.”

“Your cousin, Leandro?”

“Yes; this is his tree. My grandfather of blessed memory who owned these
thirteen trees had thirteen children. When he died he left one olive
tree to each child. The mother of Leandro was his favorite daughter,
there is no denying that, and to her he left this tree, though by good
rights it should have come to the eldest son, my father. They quarrelled
at the time, but my uncle the priest patched things up between them, he
said it was a disgrace for kindred to quarrel over an inheritance. All
very well for him to preach,--priests are obliged to, that is how they
earn their living. I was a mere child, or the matter would not have
been so easily settled, I can tell you. It is too late now; this famous
tree is Leandro’s, I must content myself with that blighted one yonder,
plainly the poorest of the lot.”

“Your tree has not been so well cared for as the others,” J. said. “Look
how wisely these branches have been pruned. The sun reaches every part.”
The branches in the middle of the big olive had been neatly cut away
leaving an open space the shape of a cup in the centre.

“There may be something in what you say,” grumbled Oreste, “indeed I
have little time to care for my property. I must always be on the road,
now with wine, now with olives, now with strawberries. Besides, I have
not Leandro’s opportunities; he sells to the strangers!”

“We will try your oil; bring the first you make to the Palazzo
Rusticucci.” On this we parted. We shall see Oreste in Rome before long
and ascertain if the oil from his tree is as good as that of the famous
old patriarch tree which we have had in other years from Leandro. To
know the vines that bear your grapes and the trees that give your olives
and oil is the next best thing to owning them, don’t you think?

The most interesting person we have met in Nemi is an old soldier of
Garibaldi’s. We were watching the sunset from the terrace of the inn one
evening, when we fell into talk with him. He is a grave, thoughtful man;
stern of expression, slow of speech, not quite like any other Italian I
have ever known. He walks with a cane, and stoops badly; I am sure if he
could stand upright he would measure six feet two inches in height. His
face is a network of wrinkles, he has an ugly red scar across one cheek.

The conversation beginning with the weather soon changed to politics. At
first he spoke in English, of which he has a small stock of words.
Something was said about the Pope and the temporal power. He bristled
all over, growing red as a turkey cock as he said,--

“The Popay as a Popay, very welley; the Popay as a Kingay, not at
alley!”

After this he relapsed into Italian and would not be induced to speak
more English. Cruel, was it not? He is gloomy enough about the present
political situation; pessimistic about the future.

He spoke with slow cold anger of a recent act of the Italian parliament,
which he cannot forgive.

“They to pass a vote of censure on Francesco Crispi! The whole lot of
them are not worth one finger of his hand!” he said.

“Everybody knows that it was the result of a political cabal against
Crispi.”

“No, not everybody; some are wholly ignorant and others forget! We who
were with him in Sicily, where he was as the right hand of Garibaldi,
know the man for what he is. He has been insulted, and his friends will
be slow to forget the insult.”

“You also were in Sicily with Garibaldi?”

“I am one of the Thousand.”

It was as if he had said “I am one of the Three Hundred of Thermopylæ,”
or the “Six Hundred of Balaclava!” It was electrifying to find oneself
in the company of one of those “few and good men” who sailed with
Garibaldi from Quarto, on the 5th of May, 1860, landed six days later at
Marsala under the protection of the British gunboats Intrepid and Argus,
made the glorious march to Palermo, and freed Sicily and Naples from the
hateful yoke of the Bourbons.

“I have heard that you of the Thousand loved your chief as if he had
been your father; is this true?”

“Our acts, not merely our words, proved it to be true. We would have
died for him to the last man. Even the women and priests wanted to take
up arms and follow Garibaldi. You know the story of the nuns? A whole
convent of nuns, from the old mother abbess to the youngest novice, gave
him the kiss of peace, they would not be denied!” He grew visibly
younger as he talked, there was fire in the man; it took but the breath
of our sympathy to blow the embers to a flame.

“Was that scar on your cheek made by an Austrian or a French bayonet?”
He rubbed the old wound with a stiff hand smiling grimly to himself. “By
neither--worse yet! At Calatafini, when the royal troops--they were
Neapolitans--had exhausted their cartridges, they threw stones at us.
Have you not heard what Garibaldi said of that action? ‘The old
misfortune, a fight between Italians, but it proves to me what can be
done with this family united.’ One day while the chief was watering his
horse at a spring a Franciscan friar suddenly appeared among us. Some of
the men tried to arrest him, but he forced his way to the chiefs side,
threw himself on his knees, and begged to be taken along with us. There
were some who believed him an enemy in disguise, but the man, his name
was Fra Pantaleo, did good service and proved true as steel!”

As long as the talk is of the old time our ancient soldier is a hero;
when it touches to-day he degenerates into a grumbler. He seems less
dissatisfied with the army than with most things modern. “My grandson is
serving his four years. Where do you suppose his regiment is quartered?
In Milan; that is as it should be, the North and the South must know
each other. It is well to send the men of Sicily to Piedmont and the
Piedmontese to Sicily. In this manner they may learn that they are
before all things Italians.”

The veterans who fought for the Unification of Italy are treated very
much as we treat the veterans who fought for the preservation of our
Union; they are scolded, laughed at, loved, and forgiven many things
that would be unpardonable in others. On national holidays the old
Garibaldians turn out in their red shirts, white kerchiefs, and peaked
caps. They are fewer now, their blouses have faded to a softer red than
when I first saw them in the year 1878, mustered to meet Garibaldi,
already mortally ill, when he came up from rocky Caprera to Rome for
the funeral of Victor Emanuel, the man he had made King of Italy. I
remember it as if it had all happened yesterday. We were in the square
outside the railroad station when he arrived. The Piazza di Termini was
packed with silent people waiting patiently hour after hour. At last we
heard the whistle of an engine; the crowd was shaken by a murmur,
“Garibaldi has come!”

A landeau was driven across the piazza at a footpace, Garibaldi lay
across the carriage, his head raised on a pillow. He wore the classic
gray felt hat and the red blouse. At first his eyes were closed as if he
were in pain. His face reminded one that God made man in His own image.
The features were fine and firm, the hair and beard were a rich silver,
the complexion white and rose, like a child’s. He was always described
as “bronzed”; the delicacy came from his long illness. Once he opened
his eyes, those who stood near caught an eagle’s glance. A tall woman
lifted her child high over her head, whispering to it, “Never, never,
never forget that thou hast seen the face of Garibaldi.” There was no
applause; many women, some men were weeping. As the carriage passed, the
guard of honor, his old companions in arms, closed around it. F., who
was near us in the crowd, was singing under his breath the words of the
old Carbonari song,

“_Zitto! silenzio, chi passa la ronda? evviva la republica, evviva
liberta_ (Hush, silence! Who passes the patrol? Long live the republic,
and long live liberty)!”

I wonder if F. remembers! He is a Pope’s man now and denies the virtue
of republics.

I described this scene to our old soldier; his bloodshot eyes grew
redder yet as he said gruffly,--

“I too was there!”

       *       *       *       *       *

To-morrow we go back to Rome. We have ordered a basket of strawberries
to take with us. I have written to the _gobbo_ to meet us at the
station; as we pass the _fruttajola’s_ shop I shall stop and tell her
that I now understand all about the strawberries of Nemi.


PALAZZO RUSTICUCCI, ROME, July 14, 1900.

This summer I am again trying the Roman method of supineness; I eat very
little, sleep a great deal, and keep mostly indoors. Last year I
exhausted myself with bicycling and other violent exercise. The English
and German residents recommend this energetic course, but I find that
the Romans are right. The terrace is too lovely, ablaze with marigolds,
cannas, cockscombs, balsams, oleanders, and portulacas. Our only failure
has been the dahlias, which all died. The vines are all doing famously;
the red honeysuckle which J. dug up (in the very face of the white bull)
at the Villa Madama, has grown to an astonishing size. Our large
passion-flower vine covered half the terrace pergola; it had out-grown
the largest flower-pot that is made, so to save its life J. gave it to
Signor Boni for the Roman forum. Four men carried it downstairs. It was
tragic to see the beautiful branches broken and trailing as they put it
in a cart and drove it away.

This is the beginning of the end! Beppino was right, the Palazzo
Rusticucci is sold to a brotherhood of French monks, and we must deliver
up the apartment and the terrace to them on the first day of September.
Many of our beloved plants will be bought by friends, others we shall
give away. The honeysuckles and some of the roses follow the
passion-flower to the forum; others go to the garden of the American
School of Archæology, where the dear Nortons will care for them, and
some to the Spanish Academy, where the Signora Villegas will have an eye
to them.

Camphoring goes on to-day; the general wretchedness of “things in the
saddle” is in the air. How stupidly we complicate life by acquiring
fleeces of Miletus and other perishable objects. How to dispose of the
accumulations of all these years? Diogenes had the right of it. In
future a tub and the sunlight will suffice me.

This afternoon as we were sitting comfortably together in the big old
studio (the coolest place in Rome) enjoying our tea, Signor Boni threw a
bombshell into our camp.

“I notice,” he said, “that those cracks in the wall have widened
perceptibly since I was last here.”

The studio is forty feet high, sixty feet long. Among the jocose
charcoal sketches scrawled on the walls certain evil-looking cracks
zigzag from the high-pitched wooden roof to the red brick pavement. When
we first came they were no more than mere cracks in the whitewash; now
they gape wide enough to hold my finger. As we were examining the cracks
we all started at a sound like the snapping of a pistol over our heads.

“What was that noise?” I cried.

“Only the creaking of the ceiling beams, it happens every now and
again,” said J.

“Before we restored the Ducal Palace in Venice, and saved it from
tumbling down, the same thing went on,” said Signor Boni; “but, _amici
miei_, do you not see what all this means?”

“It means that this old barrack is going to pieces,” said J.; “some day
they will either have to shore it up or tear it down.”

“Listen,” said the Venetian, impressively. “Last Sunday morning the
Palazzo Piombino, in the Via della Scrofa, not half a mile from here,
fell in a heap of ruins, all in a second, with no more warning than you
have had. If it had not been _festa_, and a fine day, there would have
been a great loss of life. As it was the people were all out gadding
about the town.”

Pietro, who had been listening, now chimed in. “_Scuse Signore_, there
was the cook, a friend of mine, who was obliged to remain at home in
order to freeze the ice cream,--thirsty work on a hot day. _Magari_,
that cook’s thirst saved his life. He had just climbed through the
grating into the wine cellar to get a _fiaschetta_ of the wine of
Orvieto, when piff, paff, pifferty! down came the house crashing about
his ears. The wine cellar had a vaulted stone roof so strong that it
resisted all the bricks, mortar, and rubbish that fell upon it. They
heard that cook shrieking like a small devil, and dug him out; the flask
of Orvieto was still in his hand, though he had not drunk a drop; he
believed that the catastrophe was a judgment upon him for taking the
wine.”

“The Palazzo Rusticucci to be sold over our heads, the studio
threatening to fall down upon them--our Roman world is crumbling about
us!” I cried.

To which Pietro’s “What are you going to do about it?” was cold
comfort.



XV

THE KING IS DEAD. LONG LIVE THE KING!


PALAZZO RUSTICUCCI, ROME, July 29, 1900.

I was awakened at six o’clock this morning by a loud knocking and the
shrill voices of my maids calling to me. Hurrying out to the hall I
found the three pale, shivering women huddled together near our door.

“What is the matter?” I asked.

Old Nena could only lift her withered hands to heaven and cry aloud to
the Madonna. Filomena stood staring dully, saying over and over
again,----

“Murdered, murdered, murdered!”

Pompilia the Tuscan seemed less distraught than the others.

“Tell me quickly what has happened?” I said to her.

“They have killed our King!” wailed Pompilia.

“It is true,” Filomena sobbed; “I heard it when I went to mass.”

We dressed immediately and went out into the street, to find that it was
only too true. Giuseppe the baker standing at his shop door, white as
his linen clothes, read aloud the dreadful news from his morning paper.
In the dark shop behind, his boy fed the crackling fire with brushwood
as if nothing out of the common had happened. The loaves were ready for
the oven; it was his business to keep up the fire.

“Last night, at half-past ten o’clock, as the King was getting into his
carriage at Monza, he was shot and almost instantly killed. As he fell,
those nearest caught him in their arms imploring him to say if he were
seriously hurt. His Majesty answered, _Non è niente_ (It is nothing).’
These were his last words, he died almost immediately after.”

Ignazio our gardener who had just come up, a damp newspaper crumpled in
his hand, echoed the words:

“It is nothing! It is nothing! Was not that like him? Ah! he was a brave
man.”

“The assassin was with difficulty saved from the mob;” Giuseppe
continued to read.

“Why _did_ they save him?” interrupted Ignazio. “They should have let
the people tear the wretch to pieces, and that would have been too good
for him!”

“It is nothing!” Giuseppe repeated. “Ah! you may well say he was a brave
man. Do you remember the last time they tried to murder our good King?
He was on his way to the races. The officer in the carriage with him was
wounded; Re Umberto sent the injured man back to Rome while he himself
drove on to Tor di Quinto as if nothing had happened. In the royal box
he said to one of his suite that being shot at was one of ‘_gl’incerti
del mestiere_ (the risks of the profession).’ Ah! he _was_ a brave man;
he deserved a better trade.”

“Well they have killed him at last,” said Ignazio. “What do you suppose
will be done to the murderer? Will they hang him? No, indeed; nothing so
sensible! We tax-payers must support that vile assassin for the rest of
his life. I ask you, is there any sense in that? They should let the
people have him; we will give him justice. Ah! if I had only been
there!”

Ignazio, perhaps the gentlest man I have ever known, was quite
transported with rage. Cursing and crying he dashed the tears from his
eyes with his clenched fist.

Old Nena took Ignazio by the sleeve: “Come away, man,” she said gruffly;
“will it help matters for you to have a fit of apoplexy?”

Filomena, the soft hearted, took his other arm; between them they led
him into the house. Pompilia, made of sterner stuff, remained to listen
to the baker.

“We have no capital punishment in Italy,” Giuseppe explained to me. “The
King’s assassin will be sentenced to solitary confinement for life.”

“Was the man an anarchist?” I asked.

“An anarchist, yes; and an Italian--more shame to him. But, _Signora
mia_, he comes from your country; read for yourself.” The regicide has
lived in Paterson, New Jersey. It is said that two Italian anarchist
newspapers published in that town have advocated the murder of
sovereigns in general, of King Umberto in particular. The paper Giuseppe
handed me attacks our Government sharply for allowing the publication of
these incendiary sheets.

Rome is very quiet; the grief seems to be genuine and universal. The
Prince and Princess of Naples are cruising in the Mediterranean. It is
believed that a message from a semaphore was understood upon the royal
yacht, and hoped that the young King will soon land and make his
proclamation. The evening papers speak of him already as King Victor
Emanuel III. and of our dear Queen Margaret as the Queen Mother! As soon
as Pope Leo heard of the murder he celebrated mass for the repose of the
King’s soul.

The twenty-two years of King Umberto’s reign seem to me like a dream. I
am haunted by a song of my mother’s; I hear the tragic pathos of her
voice singing the words which when I was a little child and could not
understand their meaning always sent me shamefaced into the corner to
hide my tears:

    “Kingdoms have passed away since last we met:
     See from their thrones of pride monarchs like spectres glide,
     Love’s law doth still abide, Love reigneth yet!”

I was in Rome when this dead King’s father, Victor Emanuel, died; I
strewed roses before his sumptuous funeral car with its eight black
horses; I saw King Umberto receive the oath of allegiance from his
troops, take the vow to support the constitution. Again I am in Rome; if
I live so long I shall see his funeral pageant, and yet I feel as young
as ever I did in my life, and my feelings are hurt when people treat me
as if I were not so. Read me this riddle if you can: mystery of
mysteries!

This morning Patsy, sent back to Rome as a special correspondent of the
“Daily----” surprised us at breakfast. You may imagine if we were glad
to see him. People here are so tense, so overstrained and excited, that
his presence is like a fresh north wind after days of sirocco. He
brought us the latest bulletins from the Press Club.

“Yesterday,” he said, “the young King and Queen landed from their yacht
somewhere on the coast of Calabria and went directly to Monza by way of
Naples, where Crispi, old, broken, and nearly blind, met them at the
station. The son of the murdered King hurrying to his father’s body
stops to embrace the old Minister. Can’t you imagine it? Though Crispi
is out of office and out of public favor, the young man remembers the
time when he was a child and Crispi was his father’s right hand. That
was a meeting worth seeing. I wish I had been there.”

History will judge both King and Minister more fairly than
contemporaries have done; it will find the King worthy of the great name
he bore. I gather from Patsy’s talk that the reaction is beginning
already.

“The Italians are finding out,” he said, “that the King inherited more
than his name from Humbert of the White Hand; he had the same colossal
loyalty, courage, and honesty. It sounds brutal to say it, but I believe
his tragic death has done more to secure the throne to the dynasty than
any act of his life could have done. Sympathy is already wiping out the
memory of his mistakes. There could not be a more propitious opening for
the new reign.”


August 8.

Rome is crowded. It is strange to see the hotels open, the Corso alive
with people, the Pincio and Villa Borghese filled with carriages at this
usually dead season. The Court, the people of the embassies, special
envoys from all the countries of Europe, and I should think nearly every
distinguished personage in Italy, are here for the King’s funeral
to-morrow. All these people augment rather than lessen the universal
gloom; after six months of jubilation Rome is a mourning city. This
afternoon we drove to the Quirinal Palace to inscribe our names in the
Queen’s book. A dozen large folios lie on as many tables in the entrance
hall; here all who wish to express their sympathy may write their names.
I recognized among those waiting to sign, the French Ambassador, Beppino
(Prince Nero’s grandson), and our Ignazio. One table was surrounded by
poorly dressed lads,--they looked like newsboys, messengers, and the
like. They are the best witnesses of the progress made in the last
twenty years; when King Umberto came to the throne, the street boys of
Rome did not write their names. To-night the walls are covered with
manifestoes from the various trades, guilds, and associations,
expressing horror at the crime, sympathy for the royal family, grief for
the murdered King, loyalty to his house.


August 9.

The King’s funeral was to-day. The weather was fair and very cool for
the season. We left home at half-past five in the morning and drove to
the Corso, where we were obliged to leave our carriage. We had a pass
which took us through the lines of cavalry stretched across the Piazza
Venezia. We reached the balcony we had secured (thanks to kind Mr.
Iddings, of our embassy) in the Via Nazionale, half an hour before the
funeral procession started. We kept a place for Patsy, who soon joined
us, looking, for him, rather jaded. He had been up all night, having
come down from Monza on the special train which brought the King’s body.

“It was a wonderful journey,” Patsy said. “The bells were tolled in
every town we passed through; all the stations were hung with crape;
everywhere, even at the poorest villages, we were met by citizens
bringing flowers. When we arrived, the train was half buried in laurel
and roses.”

“Were you late in reaching Rome?”

“That was the best of it: there was no confusion, no delay, we were
exactly on time. It was half-past six when the Duke of Aosta stepped
from the train,--he was in command of the guard which escorted the body
from Monza--and saluted King Victor, who was waiting on the platform.
The cousins--they are about of an age, I fancy--looked hard at each
other, shook hands, then embraced.”

Patsy had evidently been a good deal moved by the scene, which is not
surprising. You know Aosta is the heir presumptive and has a son, while
the young King is still childless.

“How did King Victor look?”

“Soldierly; as the coffin touched the soil of Rome, his lip trembled; it
seemed for a moment as if he would give way; but he controlled
himself,--that was the only sign of weakness.”

The procession opened with a troop of lancers, dashing fellows, well
mounted and well set up. Then followed artillery, infantry, engineers,
sailors, marines, and in the place of honor nearest to the cortege, the
trim, smart _bersaglieri_, a crack regiment of riflemen. Their dress is
very picturesque: dark blue uniforms, crimson facings, and large round
hats with cocks’ feathers worn on one side. The crowd in the streets was
extraordinarily quiet; the only sounds were the tramp, tramp of the
soldiers’ feet, the muffled drums of the dead march. Many of the people
had waited all night to secure their places. The civic officers of Rome
marched in fine mediæval costumes, the dresses of the _gonfalonieri_,
red and yellow cloth, were among the best.

“Have you ever seen such a well-drilled procession, or such a
well-behaved crowd?” said Patsy.

I confessed that I had never seen better. Just as we were commenting on
the fine gravity and self-control of those who marched, and of those
who waited and watched, the silence--which till then really had been
remarkable--was broken by a sound like the buzzing of thousands of
insects.

“Who can these be?” I asked.

“The lawyers are coming,” said Patsy.

The members of the court of cassation, and other legal lights, dressed
in crimson and black velvet robes, with large square velvet hats to
match, and thick gold chains about their necks, went chattering by; they
could not be silent! Siena sent a dozen pretty pages in
fifteenth-century dress: puffed satin doublets and jerkins, long silk
hose, and golden lovelocks on their shoulders. The gondoliers of Venice
(famous loyalists) were a fine group; two of the tallest carried between
them an enormous wreath of laurel, the gift of their guild.

There was a sudden stir in the crowd; then a deep sigh, as a gun
carriage drawn by two lean artillery horses came in sight, driven by a
grizzled gunner, the coffin strapped behind in the place of the gun. An
officer carrying King Umberto’s sword walked before, another followed,
bearing on a cushion the iron crown of Savoy; an orderly led his
favorite horse, the saddle draped in crape, the empty boots turned
backwards in the stirrups. King Victor followed close behind the coffin
on foot, with the Princes of Savoy, the Russian Grand Duke Alexis, the
Duke of Argyle, and other special envoys and guests of honor; among them
were Lord Currie, Mr. Iddings, and Colonel Needham, looking like a
pale-brown ghost.

Just as the gun carriage had passed, at a sudden unexplained noise--I
believe it was merely the knocking over of a chair--the panic-stricken
crowd surged into the street, broke up the procession, and nearly swept
King Victor off his feet.

There was a moment of sickening suspense; the gun carriage halted; the
King drew his sword, his kinsmen pressed close about him as if to
protect him. Then in the opposite balcony a tall handsome woman dressed
in mourning rose to her feet, and leaning well over the balcony waved
her handkerchief with a majestic gesture that quelled the panic. The
crowd understood the signal to mean “No danger!” The women in the
neighboring windows began to clap their hands. Meanwhile the gun
carriage waited, the young King stood at bay, startled, but ready for
whatever might happen. At the clapping of hands, the groans, the cries
of “Anarchists!” “A bomb!” “Traitors!” ceased, the insensate pushing and
jostling stopped, and before one could believe it possible order was
restored, and the procession took up its line of march. I never saw a
finer example of one individual of nerve and presence of mind
controlling the blind panic of a crowd.

Late, late in the procession marched a small band of old Garibaldians.
We recognized our friend from Nemi hobbling among them.

“They should not have been put off at the end of the procession, along
with the tailors and shoemakers of Rome. If it had not been for them
there would be no United Kingdom of Italy to-day,” J. said.

“Policy, my friend, policy!” said Patsy, his eyes a little dim at the
sight of the faded red shirts and the broken men who wore them.

“Nobody,” Patsy confessed, “feels the charm of gold lace more than I,
but did you notice how well the plain black coat of the American Chargé
d’Affaires looked among all those glittering liveries of kings? The
sight of it made me feel rather proud of being an American citizen!”

We waited in our balcony to see the return to the palace. Patsy, who
went to the Pantheon, where the funeral services were held, reported
them as admirably short and impressive.

“Throughout the ceremony,” he said, “Queen Margaret was given the place
of honor. At the end, just as they were about to leave the church, she
made a deep courtesy to her son, and stood back while the young King and
his wife went out before her. Think what that means! Queen Margaret,
from her fifteenth year the first lady in the land, entered the church
Queen of Italy and left it Queen Dowager. With that courtesy she stepped
from the first to the second place in the kingdom.”

“As long as she lives she will be first in every true Italian heart!”

“There’s the rub! She should not be.”

“That may be true; she will be all the same!”

There was a sudden sound of bugles, the clatter of horses’ feet. The
King’s guard, picked men, every one of them over six feet tall, came
dashing up the street to the crisp music of the royal march. In their
midst we caught a glimpse of King Victor, in a closed carriage, on his
way to take possession of the Quirinal Palace.

The King is dead. Long live the King!


August 14.

It is written that our last days in Rome shall not hang heavy on our
hands; emotion follows emotion! Last evening J. went to the station to
see Patsy off on the special train provided for Queen Elena’s sister
(married to the Russian Grand Duke) and the other royal and
distinguished personages who came to the funeral. They had all stayed on
to hear King Victor’s maiden speech to his Parliament--which, by the
way, was capital; he spoke of his mother in a manner that went to the
hearts of all good sons and daughters. Patsy told us, with the young
newspaper man’s air of supreme knowledge, that he had it on the best
authority that the King wrote his own speech. I believe this, more from
internal than external evidence; it rings true, not like an address
prepared by a minister for a monarch to deliver.

Patsy being gone, we thought to set about closing up our affairs in
earnest, when this morning arrives a note written on the back of an old
envelope in his hand.

“Send me some soup! I can’t stand this hospital diet. I am a bit shaken
up by the collision at Castel Giubileo last night. Nothing serious in my
condition, except the appetite.”

The scrawl was dated from the hospital of San Giacomo, where Filomena’s
brother has been a patient for a month past. I packed a basket with
provisions and drove directly to the hospital, taking Filomena with me.
We stopped on our way to see Dr. Massimo, who gave us a letter of
introduction to the house surgeon. The porter of the hospital took in my
card and note of introduction while we waited in the lodge. As we got
out of the cab Filomena behaved rather strangely; she asked the _gobbo_,
our cabman, to bring in the basket, and when he set it down on the not
too clean pavement, she let it remain where he put it.

“Please to take the basket off the pavement,” I said.

“Excuse me, Signora, it will be better to wait till the porter returns
and ask him either to carry the basket himself or to send another with
it. These people are very suspicious; they might think that _I_ was
trying to smuggle something into the hospital. The idea is, of course,
ridiculous, but these hospital employés are strangely suspicious
people.”

At that moment an enormous red-haired woman wearing a checked apron came
towards us; she spoke pleasantly to Filomena. “Well, my girl, I hear
that your brother is getting better fast. Ah! he has a good sister.” As
she spoke the giantess enveloped Filomena in a capacious embrace.
Beginning at the girl’s slender throat she passed her great arms and
hands down her body to the very feet, feeling her all over, pressing the
light cotton skirts so close about her that she looked like a Tanagra
figurine. Though Filomena endured the searching embrace with composure,
I saw her glance at me, and there is no denying that she turned scarlet.

“Nothing contraband this morning, eh?” said the good-natured giantess.

“This is my mistress,” Filomena interposed, anxious to shield herself
under my ægis. “She has brought some refreshments to a gentleman who was
hurt in the railroad accident last night. She has a letter from Dr.
Massimo.”

The giantess bowed to me politely. “There will be no difficulty, that
will arrange itself,” she said. “Won’t you be seated, Madam, till the
doctor comes? It is against the rule to allow any provisions to pass
without a special permission from the house physician. This pretty one
does not see the use of that rule, do you, my dear?”

If looks could kill, the giantess would have died, slain by the rage in
Filomena’s beautiful eyes.

I found Patsy, smelling horribly of carbolic acid, in a small iron bed,
a chart of his injuries--slight but numerous--fixed at the head of the
cot. His powers of speech had not been impaired.

“I knew you would come. Have you brought the soup, and some decent wine?
There’s the jolliest sister who takes care of me--that tall one with the
red cheeks--isn’t she a corker? She will heat the broth and cool the
wine.”

I asked the sister how long she would be obliged to keep her troublesome
patient. She said, “Only a few days; he might possibly be moved
to-morrow.” That was a hint for us to take him home, which I offered to
do. Patsy would not hear of this.

“Think of the copy I am getting,” he said. “I know more about the
Italian medical profession, nurses, and hospitals than I could have
learned in a year’s study outside. I have notes for three articles
already.”

“What are your views?”

“The doctors are clever fellows, the nurses angels, the hospital one
hundred years behind the times.”

When he had finished his soup Patsy told me about the accident.

“At Castel Giubileo, about eight miles out from Rome, another train ran
into ours and the two telescoped. Fortunately I was in the last of the
wrecked carriages--that was bad enough. I can’t talk about the other
people yet, the newspapers will give you all the dreadful details. In
our carriage there was only a fat deputy, the Honorable Somebody, and
myself. After the crash I found that I was pinned to the floor by a beam
and could not stir hand or foot. Presently a guard came along; he said
we were in no danger, and that we must lie still till they could dig us
out. I fancy I fainted or went to sleep then, for quite suddenly it was
dawn, and the deputy was crying out that he was dying and should never
see his Amelia again. Then I saw a man come clambering over the wrecked
smoking ruins of the cars towards us. Somehow he managed to reach down
through the débris and get the deputy by the hand.

“‘Courage, courage, _Onorevole_, thou art saved!’ he said in the
jolliest voice. A little later we heard his voice again, giving orders
to the men he had brought to dig us out; we were buried deep under the
splintered car ahead of us. As soon as I found myself in the blessed
cool air, I looked to see what sort of man had saved me from that pit of
hell; it was the King.”

“The King? are you sure?”

“Oh, you will find it all in the papers if you don’t believe me. The
Grand Duchess sent one of her suite directly to the palace to tell her
sister, Queen Elena, that she was not hurt, before she should hear of
the accident from any other source.

“The messenger waked the King and Queen--it was one o’clock in the
morning, they were asleep--told them what had happened and that a relief
train was being made up. Those young people dressed, and ran all the way
from the Quirinal to the railroad station--it must be close on a
mile--hoping to catch the relief train; they were too late; it had
already gone when they arrived. Outside the station they took the first
cab they met, and started to drive the eight miles to Castel Giubileo.
At the Porta Salaria the cab was overtaken by one of the royal carriages
from the Quirinal stables, which brought them the rest of the way. As
the Deputy and I were in the last of the wrecked carriages, we were less
hurt than anybody else, I fancy; we certainly were the last attended to;
and I saw the dreadful business through. The Queen worked over the
wounded women, trotting from one to the other, doing everything she
could to make them comfortable. At nine o’clock in the morning the Mayor
of Rome and some other old fogies came lumbering up in a landeau. They
met the King, black with smoke and grime, just starting to drive back to
town.”

“A man of action, like his father and grandfather before him,” I said.

“A chip of the old block,” cried Patsy. “She is admirable; if ever I saw
a pair of lovers, it is those two--that must be the best of it all.”

The tall sister evidently thought that Patsy was talking too much, so I
took my leave. If I had stayed ten minutes I too should have seen the
young King and Queen as Filomena saw them. At three o’clock they visited
the wounded at San Giacomo’s.

Filomena told me about it with flashing eyes.

“Ah, Signora, it is a pity you were in such a hurry. While I was talking
with my brother, who should come into the ward but the King and Queen!
They spoke to all the people who had been hurt in the accident. The
Queen is tall--oh, very tall! with great dark eyes and such hair, twice
as much as I have. I wish you had seen her dress, Signora, it was of
white silk and lace, and her hat! It was in the last fashion, and quite
the prettiest hat I ever saw. When the sick people saw who had come to
visit them, what do you think they did? In spite of the doctors and the
sisters, those patients sat up in their beds and cheered and clapped
their hands. I think they were perfectly right to do so; even the very
sick must have been made better by the sight of those royal spouses, and
the sound of the _evvivas_!”


August 31.

Our last day in Rome! The trunks were sent to the station this morning;
they have been forwarded direct to Genoa, where we take ship for home on
the 10th of September. We intend making a slight detour, going by way of
Oberammergau (where our seats and lodgings are engaged) to see the
Passion Play. The few pieces of furniture that remain--our beds, some
chairs, the dinner table and service--will be taken away to-morrow
morning. We consider it quite a feat to break up housekeeping after
nearly seven years in the Palazzo Rusticucci, and to sleep the last
night in Rome under our own roof. Very busy all day saying good-by. In
the morning Ignazio carried away the last load of our beloved plants.
Before he came I gathered all the flowers, and took an armful of roses,
oleanders, and jessamine to the cemetery in memory of the dear one who
made this Eternal City a second home to me--who shall say to how many
others?

Sora Giulia came in just after the trunks had gone, with some ravishing
old lace and embroidery. She is genuinely sorry we are going; we have
been good customers. As to Nena, tough old Spartan, she is nearer
weeping than she likes.

Patsy, discharged from the hospital this morning, came in to report
himself. He had talked so much with nurses, doctors, and patients, been
so busy getting his notes together, that a fever set in which kept him
at San Giacomo’s ten days after his bruises were healed. He confesses
that it was his own fault! Patsy stayed on to dine, so we had a little
feast, and, thanks to him, were able to make merry to the last--just
what I wished!

“Do you know,” Patsy said, “that you made a great mistake in the name of
your palace? It has always been known to the initiated as the Palazzo
Accoramboni. Whoever told you the name was Rusticucci was no better than
a fool.”

“He was a very wise man. To-morrow, when we shall have gone, the palace
will return to its old name; consequently we shall be the only people
who have ever lived in the Palazzo Rusticucci!” Don’t you think my
argument a good one?

After Patsy left we took our last look at the terrace. It was full moon,
as on that first night; the piazza, the fountains, the colonnade, the
obelisk were all there, just as we found them. The terrace, which J.
made as fragrant and lovely for me as the hanging gardens of Babylon, is
again as bare as my hand. Even the red rose of the monsignore which we
found here has been sent with other favorite flowers to a friend. I do
not think that black-a-vised French priest, the head of the fraternity,
would have cared for it, and it was the beginning of all our joy! In
the farthest corner of the terrace I saw a small dark object moving
slowly across the floor.

“It is Jeremy Bentham!” said J. We had almost forgotten our poor
tortoise, the least demonstrative of all our pets. We shall leave him
and the nightingale at the Spanish Academy to-morrow before going to the
station. The bells of St. Peter’s rang twelve before we came down. We
looked at all the familiar points, Soracte, Monte Cavo, the Castle of
Sant’ Angelo, and last and longest at St. Peter’s before we said
“_Addio, Roma Beata!_”

This is my last letter from Rome. There are many more things I want to
say to you, but I must leave you and say good-night. Pan the nightingale
wants to go to sleep, and is piping piteous appeals to me to go away and
leave him at peace in the pleasant darkness. Another little pipe.
Good-night!


FOOTNOTES:

[1] In the stillness of the morning at dawn, in the distance, and then
nearer to the residence--this has a very characteristic effect.

[2] In the crowd of the day, in the tumult of carriages and carts, this
minor air is very noticeable.

[3] Cardinal Hohenlohe, since dead, left what remained of his fortune
to the son of the man who in this way was the means of saving his life.
At the sale of the cardinal’s effects Monsignor O’Connell, of the
American College, bought the grand piano on which Liszt has so often
played.





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