Part 2 out of 3
knew nothing of London, and had no preference of her own; so she was
perfectly willing to give Katy hers, and Batt's was decided upon.
"It is just like a dream or a story," said Katy, as they drove away from
the London station in a four-wheeler. "It is really ourselves, and this
is really London! Can you imagine it?"
She looked out. Nothing met her eyes but dingy weather, muddy streets,
long rows of ordinary brick or stone houses. It might very well have
been New York or Boston on a foggy day, yet to her eyes all things had a
subtle difference which made them unlike similar objects at home.
"Wimpole Street!" she cried suddenly, as she caught sight of the name on
the corner; "that is the street where Maria Crawford in Mansfield Park,
you know, 'opened one of the best houses' after she married Mr.
Rushworth. Think of seeing Wimpole Street! What fun!" She looked eagerly
out after the "best houses," but the whole street looked uninteresting
and old-fashioned; the best house to be seen was not of a kind, Katy
thought, to reconcile an ambitious young woman to a dull husband. Katy
had to remind herself that Miss Austen wrote her novels nearly a century
ago, that London was a "growing" place, and that things were probably
much changed since that day.
More "fun" awaited them when they arrived at Batt's, and exactly such a
landlady sailed forth to welcome them as they had often met with in
books,--an old landlady, smiling and rubicund, with a towering lace cap
on her head, a flowered silk gown, a gold chain, and a pair of fat
mittened hands demurely crossed over a black brocade apron. She alone
would have been worth crossing the ocean to see, they all declared.
Their telegram had been received, and rooms were ready, with a bright,
smoky fire of soft coals; the dinner-table was set, and a nice, formal,
white-cravated old waiter, who seemed to have stepped out of the same
book with the landlady, was waiting to serve it. Everything was dingy
and old-fashioned, but very clean and comfortable; and Katy concluded
that on the whole Godfrey Percy would have done wisely to go to Batt's,
and could have fared no better at the other hotel where he did stay.
The first of Katy's "London sights" came to her next morning before she
was out of her bedroom. She heard a bell ring and a queer squeaking
little voice utter a speech of which she could not make out a single
word. Then came a laugh and a shout, as if several boys were amused at
something or other; and altogether her curiosity was roused, so that she
finished dressing as fast as she could, and ran to the drawing-room
window which commanded a view of the street. Quite a little crowd was
collected under the window, and in their midst was a queer box raised
high on poles, with little red curtains tied back on either side to form
a miniature stage, on which puppets were moving and vociferating. Katy
knew in a moment that she was seeing her first Punch and Judy!
The box and the crowd began to move away. Katy in despair ran to
Wilkins, the old waiter who was setting the breakfast-table.
"Oh, please stop that man!" she said. "I want to see him."
"What man is it, Miss?" said Wilkins.
When he reached the window and realized what Katy meant, his sense of
propriety seemed to receive a severe shock. He even ventured on
"H'I wouldn't, Miss, h'if h'I was you. Them Punches are a low lot, Miss;
they h'ought to be put down, really they h'ought. Gentlefolks, h'as a
general thing, pays no h'attention to them."
But Katy didn't care what "gentlefolks" did or did not do, and insisted
upon having Punch called back. So Wilkins was forced to swallow his
remonstrances and his dignity, and go in pursuit of the objectionable
object. Amy came rushing out, with her hair flying and Mabel in her
arms; and she and Katy had a real treat of Punch and Judy, with all the
well-known scenes, and perhaps a few new ones thrown in for their
especial behoof; for the showman seemed to be inspired by the rapturous
enjoyment of his little audience of three at the first-floor windows.
Punch beat Judy and stole the baby, and Judy banged Punch in return, and
the constable came in and Punch outwitted him, and the hangman and the
devil made their appearance duly; and it was all perfectly satisfactory,
and "just exactly what she hoped it would be, and it quite made up for
the muffins," Katy declared.
Then, when Punch had gone away, the question arose as to what they
should choose, out of the many delightful things in London, for their
Like ninety-nine Americans out of a hundred, they decided on Westminster
Abbey; and indeed there is nothing in England better worth seeing, or
more impressive, in its dim, rich antiquity, to eyes fresh from the
world which still calls itself "new." So to the Abbey they went, and
lingered there till Mrs. Ashe declared herself to be absolutely dropping
"If you don't take me home and give me something to eat," she said, "I
shall drop down on one of these pedestals and stay there and be
exhibited forever after as an 'h'effigy' of somebody belonging to
ancient English history."
So Katy tore herself away from Henry the Seventh and the Poets' Corner,
and tore Amy away from a quaint little tomb shaped like a cradle, with
the marble image of a baby in it, which had greatly taken her fancy. She
could only be consoled by the promise that she should soon come again
and stay as long as she liked. She reminded Katy of this promise the
very next morning.
"Mamma has waked up with rather a bad headache, and she thinks she
will lie still and not come to breakfast," she reported. "And she
sends her love, and says will you please have a cab and go where you
like; and if I won't be a trouble, she would be glad if you would take
me with you. And I won't be a trouble, Miss Katy, and I know where I
wish you would go."
"Where is that!"
"To see that cunning little baby again that we saw yesterday. I want to
show her to Mabel,--she didn't go with us, you know, and I don't like to
have her mind not improved; and, darling Miss Katy, mayn't I buy some
flowers and put them on the Baby? She's so dusty and so old that I don't
believe anybody has put any flowers for her for ever so long."
Katy found this idea rather pretty, and willingly stopped at Covent
Garden, where they bought a bunch of late roses for eighteen pence,
which entirely satisfied Amy. With them in her hand, and Mabel in her
arms, she led the way through the dim aisles of the Abbey, through
grates and doors and up and down steps; the guide following, but not at
all needed, for Amy seemed to have a perfectly clear recollection of
every turn and winding. When the chapel was reached, she laid the roses
on the tomb with gentle fingers, and a pitiful, reverent look in her
gray eyes. Then she lifted Mabel up to kiss the odd little baby effigy
above the marble quilt; whereupon the guide seemed altogether surprised
out of his composure, and remarked to Katy,--
"Little Miss is an h'American, as is plain to see; no h'English child
would be likely to think of doing such a thing."
"Do not English children take any interest in the tombs of the Abbey?"
"Oh yes, m'm,--h'interest; but they don't take no special notice of one
tomb above h'another."
Katy could scarcely keep from laughing, especially as she heard Amy, who
had been listening to the conversation, give an audible sniff, and
inform Mabel that she was glad _she_ was not an English child, who
didn't notice things and liked grown-up graves as much as she did dear
little cunning ones like this!
Later in the day, when Mrs. Ashe was better, they all drove together to
the quaint old keep which has been the scene of so many tragedies, and
is known as the Tower of London. Here they were shown various rooms and
chapels and prisons; and among the rest the apartments where Queen
Elizabeth, when a friendless young Princess, was shut up for many months
by her sister, Queen Mary. Katy had read somewhere, and now told Amy,
the pretty legend of the four little children who lived with their
parents in the Tower, and used to play with the royal captive; and how
one little boy brought her a key which he had picked up on the ground,
and said, "Now you can go out when you will, lady;" and how the Lords of
the Council, getting wind of it, sent for the children to question them,
and frightened them and their friends almost to death, and forbade them
to go near the Princess again.
A story about children always brings the past much nearer to a child,
and Amy's imagination was so excited by this tale, that when they got to
the darksome closet which is said to have been the prison of Sir Walter
Raleigh, she marched out of it with a pale and wrathful face.
"If this is English history, I never mean to learn any more of it, and
neither shall Mabel," she declared.
But it is not possible for Amy or any one else not to learn a great deal
of history simply by going about London. So many places are associated
with people or events, and seeing the places makes one care so much more
for the people or the events, that one insensibly questions and wonders.
Katy, who had "browsed" all through her childhood in a good
old-fashioned library, had her memory stuffed with all manner of little
scraps of information and literary allusions, which now came into use.
It was like owning the disjointed bits of a puzzle, and suddenly
discovering that properly put together they make a pattern. Mrs. Ashe,
who had never been much of a reader, considered her young friend a
prodigy of intelligence; but Katy herself realized how inadequate and
inexact her knowledge was, and how many bits were missing from the
pattern of her puzzle. She wished with all her heart, as every one
wishes under such circumstances, that she had studied harder and more
wisely while the chance was in her power. On a journey you cannot read
to advantage. Remember that, dear girls, who are looking forward to
travelling some day, and be industrious in time.
October is not a favorable month in which to see England. Water, water
is everywhere; you breathe it, you absorb it; it wets your clothes and
it dampens your spirits. Mrs. Ashe's friends advised her not to think of
Scotland at that time of the year. One by one their little intended
excursions were given up. A single day and night in Oxford and
Stratford-on-Avon; a short visit to the Isle of Wight, where, in a
country-place which seemed provokingly pretty as far as they could see
it for the rain, lived that friend of Mrs. Ashe who had married an
Englishman and in so doing had, as Katy privately thought, "renounced
the sun;" a peep at Stonehenge from under the shelter of an umbrella,
and an hour or two in Salisbury Cathedral,--was all that they
accomplished, except a brief halt at Winchester, that Katy might have
the privilege of seeing the grave of her beloved Miss Austen. Katy had
come abroad with a terribly long list of graves to visit, Mrs. Ashe
declared. They laid a few rain-washed flowers upon the tomb, and
listened with edification to the verger, who inquired,--
"Whatever was it, ma'am, that lady did which brings so many h'Americans
to h'ask about her? Our h'English people don't seem to take the same
"She wrote such delightful stories," explained Katy; but the old verger
shook his head.
"I think h'it must be some other party, Miss, you've confused with this
here. It stands to reason, Miss, that we'd have heard of 'em h'over 'ere
in England sooner than you would h'over there in h'America, if the books
'ad been h'anything so h'extraordinary."
The night after their return to London they were dining for the second
time with the cousins of whom Mrs. Ashe had spoken to Dr. Carr; and as
it happened Katy sat next to a quaint elderly American, who had lived
for twenty years in London and knew it much better than most Londoners
do. This gentleman, Mr. Allen Beach, had a hobby for antiquities, old
books especially, and passed half his time at the British Museum, and
the other half in sales rooms and the old shops in Wardour Street.
Katy was lamenting over the bad weather which stood in the way of
"It is so vexatious," she said. "Mrs. Ashe meant to go to York and
Lincoln and all the cathedral towns and to Scotland; and we have had to
give it all up because of the rains. We shall go away having seen hardly
"You can see London."
"We have,--that is, we have seen the things that everybody sees."
"But there are so many things that people in general do not see. How
much longer are you to stay, Miss Carr?"
"A week, I believe."
"Why don't you make out a list of old buildings which are connected with
famous people in history, and visit them in turn? I did that the second
year after I came. I gave up three months to it, and it was most
interesting. I unearthed all manner of curious stories and traditions."
"Or," cried Katy, struck with a sudden bright thought, "why mightn't
I put into the list some of the places I know about in books,--novels
as well as history,--and the places where the people who wrote the
"You might do that, and it wouldn't be a bad idea, either," said Mr.
Beach, pleased with her enthusiasm. "I will get a pencil after dinner
and help you with your list if you will allow me."
Mr. Beach was better than his word. He not only suggested places and
traced a plan of sight-seeing, but on two different mornings he went
with them himself; and his intelligent knowledge of London added very
much to the interest of the excursions. Under his guidance the little
party of four--for Mabel was never left out; it was _such_ a chance for
her to improve her mind, Amy declared--visited the Charter-House, where
Thackeray went to school, and the Home of the Poor Brothers connected
with it, in which Colonel Newcome answered "Adsum" to the roll-call of
the angels. They took a look at the small house in Curzon Street, which
is supposed to have been in Thackeray's mind when he described the
residence of Becky Sharpe; and the other house in Russell Square which
is unmistakably that where George Osborne courted Amelia Sedley. They
went to service in the delightful old church of St. Mary in the Temple,
and thought of Ivanhoe and Brian de Bois-Guilbert and Rebecca the
Jewess. From there Mr. Beach took them to Lamb's Court, where Pendennis
and George Warrington dwelt in chambers together; and to Brick Court,
where Oliver Goldsmith passed so much of his life, and the little rooms
in which Charles and Mary Lamb spent so many sadly happy years. On
another day they drove to Whitefriars, for the sake of Lord Glenvarloch
and the old privilege of Sanctuary in the "Fortunes of Nigel;" and took
a peep at Bethnal Green, where the Blind Beggar and his "Pretty Bessee"
lived, and at the old Prison of the Marshalsea, made interesting by its
associations with "Little Dorrit." They also went to see Milton's house
and St. Giles Church, in which he is buried; and stood a long time
before St. James Palace, trying to make out which could have been Miss
Burney's windows when she was dresser to Queen Charlotte of bitter
memory. And they saw Paternoster Row and No. 5 Cheyne Walk, sacred
forevermore to the memory of Thomas Carlyle, and Whitehall, where Queen
Elizabeth lay in state and King Charles was beheaded, and the state
rooms of Holland House; and by great good luck had a glimpse of George
Eliot getting out of a cab. She stood for a moment while she gave her
fare to the cabman, and Katy looked as one who might not look again, and
carried away a distinct picture of the unbeautiful, interesting,
With all this to see and to do, the last week sped all too swiftly, and
the last day came before they were at all ready to leave what Katy
called "Story-book England." Mrs. Ashe had decided to cross by Newhaven
and Dieppe, because some one had told her of the beautiful old town of
Rouen, and it seemed easy and convenient to take it on the way to Paris.
Just landed from the long voyage across the Atlantic, the little passage
of the Channel seemed nothing to our travellers, and they made ready for
their night on the Dieppe steamer with the philosophy which is born of
ignorance. They were speedily undeceived!
The English Channel has a character of its own, which distinguishes it
from other seas and straits. It seems made fractious and difficult by
Nature, and set as on purpose to be barrier between two nations who are
too unlike to easily understand each other, and are the safer neighbors
for this wholesome difficulty of communication between them. The "chop"
was worse than usual on the night when our travellers crossed; the
steamer had to fight her way inch by inch. And oh, such a little
steamer! and oh, such a long night!
ACROSS THE CHANNEL.
Dawn had given place to day, and day was well advanced toward noon,
before the stout little steamer gained her port. It was hours after
the usual time for arrival; the train for Paris must long since have
started, and Katy felt dejected and forlorn as, making her way out of
the terrible ladies'-cabin, she crept on deck for her first glimpse
The sun was struggling through the fog with a watery smile, and his
faint beams shone on a confusion of stone piers, higher than the
vessel's deck, intersected with canal-like waterways, through whose
intricate windings the steamer was slowly threading her course to the
landing-place. Looking up, Katy could see crowds of people assembled to
watch the boat come in,--workmen, peasants, women, children, soldiers,
custom-house officers, moving to and fro,--and all this crowd were
talking all at once and all were talking French!
I don't know why this should have startled her as it did. She knew, of
course, that people of different countries were liable to be found
speaking their own languages; but somehow the spectacle of the
chattering multitude, all seeming so perfectly at ease with their
preterits and subjunctives and never once having to refer to Ollendorf
or a dictionary, filled her with a sense of dismayed surprise.
"Good gracious!" she said to herself, "even the babies understand it!"
She racked her brains to recall what she had once known of French, but
very little seemed to have survived the horrors of the night!
"Oh dear! what is the word for trunk-key?" she asked herself. "They will
all begin to ask questions, and I shall not have a word to say; and Mrs.
Ashe will be even worse off, I know." She saw the red-trousered
custom-house officers pounce upon the passengers as they landed one by
one, and she felt her heart sink within her.
But after all, when the time came it did not prove so very bad. Katy's
pleasant looks and courteous manner stood her in good stead. She did not
trust herself to say much; but the officials seemed to understand
without saying. They bowed and gestured, whisked the keys in and out,
and in a surprisingly short time all was pronounced right, the baggage
had "passed," and it and its owners were free to proceed to the
railway-station, which fortunately was close at hand.
Inquiry revealed the fact that no train for Paris left till four in the
"I am rather glad," declared poor Mrs. Ashe, "for I feel too used up to
move. I will lie here on this sofa; and, Katy dear, please see if there
is an eating-place, and get some breakfast for yourself and Amy, and
send me a cup of tea."
"I don't like to leave you alone," Katy was beginning; but at that
moment a nice old woman who seemed to be in charge of the waiting-room
appeared, and with a flood of French which none of them could follow,
but which was evidently sympathetic in its nature, flew at Mrs. Ashe and
began to make her comfortable. From a cupboard in the wall she produced
a pillow, from another cupboard a blanket; in a trice she had one under
Mrs. Ashe's head and the other wrapped round her feet.
"Pauvre madame," she said, "si pale! si souffrante! Il faut avoir
quelque chose a boire et a manger tout de suite." She trotted across the
room and into the restaurant which opened out of it, while Mrs. Ashe
smiled at Katy and said, "You see you can leave me quite safely; I am to
be taken care of." And Katy and Amy passed through the same door into
the _buffet_, and sat down at a little table.
It was a particularly pleasant-looking place to breakfast in. There were
many windows with bright polished panes and very clean short muslin
curtains, and on the window-sills stood rows of thrifty potted plants in
full bloom,--marigolds, balsams, nasturtiums, and many colored
geraniums. Two birds in cages were singing loudly; the floor was waxed
to a glass-like polish; nothing could have been whiter than the marble
of the tables except the napkins laid over them. And such a good
breakfast as was presently brought to them,--delicious coffee in
bowl-like cups, crisp rolls and rusks, an omelette with a delicate
flavor of fine herbs, stewed chicken, little pats of freshly churned
butter without salt, shaped like shells and tasting like solidified
cream, and a pot of some sort of nice preserve. Amy made great delighted
eyes at Katy, and remarking, "I think France is heaps nicer than that
old England," began to eat with a will; and Katy herself felt that if
this railroad meal was a specimen of what they had to expect in the
future, they had indeed come to a land of plenty.
Fortified with the satisfactory breakfast, she felt equal to a walk; and
after they had made sure that Mrs. Ashe had all she needed, she and Amy
(and Mabel) set off by themselves to see the sights of Dieppe. I don't
know that travellers generally have considered Dieppe an interesting
place, but Katy found it so. There was a really old church and some
quaint buildings of the style of two centuries back, and even the more
modern streets had a novel look to her unaccustomed eyes. At first they
only ventured a timid turn or two, marking each corner, and going back
now and then to reassure themselves by a look at the station; but after
a while, growing bolder, Katy ventured to ask a question or two in
French, and was surprised and charmed to find herself understood. After
that she grew adventurous, and, no longer fearful of being lost, led Amy
straight down a long street lined with shops, almost all of which were
for the sale of articles in ivory.
Ivory wares are one of the chief industries of Dieppe. There were cases
full, windows full, counters full, of the most exquisite combs and
brushes, some with elaborate monograms in silver and colors, others
plain; there were boxes and caskets of every size and shape, ornaments,
fans, parasol handles, looking-glasses, frames for pictures large and
Katy was particularly smitten with a paper-knife in the form of an angel
with long slender wings raised over its head and meeting to form a
point. Its price was twenty francs, and she was strongly tempted to buy
it for Clover or Rose Red. But she said to herself sensibly, "This is
the first shop I have been into and the first thing I have really wanted
to buy, and very likely as we go on I shall see things I like better and
want more, so it would be foolish to do it. No, I won't." And she
resolutely turned her back on the ivory angel, and walked away.
The next turn brought them to a gay-looking little market-place, where
old women in white caps were sitting on the ground beside baskets and
panniers full of apples, pears, and various queer and curly vegetables,
none of which Katy recognized as familiar; fish of all shapes and colors
were flapping in shallow tubs of sea-water; there were piles of
stockings, muffetees, and comforters in vivid blue and red worsted, and
coarse pottery glazed in bright patterns. The faces of the women were
brown and wrinkled; there were no pretty ones among them, but their
black eyes were full of life and quickness, and their fingers one and
all clicked with knitting-needles, as their tongues flew equally fast in
the chatter and the chaffer, which went on without stop or stay, though
customers did not seem to be many and sales were few.
Returning to the station they found that Mrs. Ashe had been asleep
during their absence, and seemed so much better that it was with greatly
amended spirits that they took their places in the late afternoon train
which was to set them down at Rouen. Katy said they were like the Wise
Men of the East, "following a star," in their choice of a hotel; for,
having no better advice, they had decided upon one of those thus
distinguished in Baedeker's Guide-book.
The star did not betray their confidence; for the Hotel de la Cloche, to
which it led them, proved to be quaint and old, and very pleasant of
aspect. The lofty chambers, with their dimly frescoed ceilings, and beds
curtained with faded patch, might to all appearances have been furnished
about the time when "Columbus crossed the ocean blue;" but everything
was clean, and had an air of old-time respectability. The dining-room,
which was evidently of more modern build, opened into a square courtyard
where oleanders and lemon trees in boxes stood round the basin of a
little fountain, whose tinkle and plash blended agreeably with the
rattle of the knives and forks. In one corner of the room was a raised
and railed platform, where behind a desk sat the mistress of the house,
busy with her account-books, but keeping an eye the while on all that
Mrs. Ashe walked past this personage without taking any notice of her,
as Americans are wont to do under such circumstances; but presently the
observant Katy noticed that every one else, as they went in or out of
the room, addressed a bow or a civil remark to this lady. She quite
blushed at the recollection afterward, as she made ready for bed.
"How rude we must have seemed!" she thought. "I am afraid the people
here think that Americans have _awful_ manners, everybody is so polite.
They said 'Bon soir' and 'Merci' and 'Voulez-vous avoir la bonte,' to
the waiters even! Well, there is one thing,--I am going to reform.
To-morrow I will be as polite as anybody. They will think that I am
miraculously improved by one night on French soil; but, never mind! I am
going to do it."
She kept her resolution, and astonished Mrs. Ashe next morning, by
bowing to the dame on the platform in the most winning manner, and
saying, "Bon jour, madame," as they went by.
"But, Katy, who is that person? Why do you speak to her?"
"Don't you see that they all do? She is the landlady, I think; at all
events, everybody bows to her. And just notice how prettily these ladies
at the next table speak to the waiter. They do not order him to do
things as we do at home. I noticed it last night, and I liked it so much
that I made a resolution to get up and be as polite as the French
themselves this morning."
So all the time that they went about the sumptuous old city, rich in
carvings and sculptures and traditions, while they were looking at the
Cathedral and the wonderful church of St. Ouen, and the Palace of
Justice, and the "Place of the Maid," where poor Jeanne d'Arc was burned
and her ashes scattered to the winds, Katy remembered her manners, and
smiled and bowed, and used courteous prefixes in a soft pleasant voice;
and as Mrs. Ashe and Amy fell in with her example more or less, I think
the guides and coachmen and the old women who showed them over the
buildings felt that the air of France was very civilizing indeed, and
that these strangers from savage countries over the sea were in a fair
way to be as well bred as if they had been born in a more favored part
of the world!
Paris looked very modern after the peculiar quaint richness and air of
the Middle Ages which distinguish Rouen. Rooms had been engaged for
Mrs. Ashe's party in a _pension_ near the Arc d'Etoile, and there they
drove immediately on arriving. The rooms were not in the _pension_
itself, but in a house close by,--a sitting-room with six mirrors,
three clocks, and a pinched little grate about a foot wide, a
dining-room just large enough for a table and four chairs, and two
bedrooms. A maid called Amandine had been detailed to take charge of
these rooms and serve their meals.
Dampness, as Katy afterward wrote to Clover, was the first impression
they received of "gay Paris." The tiny fire in the tiny grate had only
just been lighted, and the walls and the sheets and even the blankets
felt chilly and moist to the touch. They spent their first evening in
hanging the bedclothes round the grate and piling on fuel; they even set
the mattresses up on edge to warm and dry! It was not very enlivening,
it must be confessed. Amy had taken a cold, Mrs. Ashe looked worried,
and Katy thought of Burnet and the safety and comfort of home with a
throb of longing.
The days that ensued were not brilliant enough to remove this
impression. The November fogs seemed to have followed them across the
Channel, and Paris remained enveloped in a wet blanket which dimmed and
hid its usually brilliant features. Going about in cabs with the windows
drawn up, and now and then making a rush through the drip into shops,
was not exactly delightful, but it seemed pretty much all that they
could do. It was worse for Amy, whose cold kept her indoors and denied
her even the relaxation of the cab. Mrs. Ashe had engaged a
well-recommended elderly English maid to come every morning and take
care of Amy while they were out; and with this respectable functionary,
whose ideas were of a rigidly British type and who did not speak a word
of any language but her own, poor Amy was compelled to spend most of her
time. Her only consolation was in persuading this serene attendant to
take a part in the French lessons which she made a daily point of giving
to Mabel out of her own little phrase-book.
"Wilkins is getting on, I think," she told Katy one night. "She says
'Biscuit glace' quite nicely now. But I never will let her look at the
book, though she always wants to; for if once she saw how the words are
spelled, she would never in the world pronounce them right again. They
look so very different, you know."
Katy looked at Amy's pale little face and eager eyes with a real
heartache. Her rapture when at the end of the long dull afternoons her
mother returned to her was touching. Paris was very _triste_ to poor
Amy, with all her happy facility for amusing herself; and Katy felt that
the sooner they got away from it the better it would be. So, in spite of
the delight which her brief glimpses at the Louvre gave her, and the fun
it was to go about with Mrs. Ashe and see her buy pretty things, and the
real satisfaction she took in the one perfectly made walking-suit to
which she had treated herself, she was glad when the final day came,
when the belated dressmakers and artistes in jackets and wraps had sent
home their last wares, and the trunks were packed. It had been rather
the fault of circumstances than of Paris; but Katy had not learned to
love the beautiful capital as most Americans do, and did not feel at all
as if she wanted that her "reward of virtue" should be to go there when
she died! There must be more interesting places for live people, and
ghosts too, to be found on the map of Europe, she was sure.
Next morning as they drove slowly down the Champs Elysees, and
looked back for a last glimpse of the famous Arch, a bright object
met their eyes, moving vaguely against the mist. It was the gay red
wagon of the Bon Marche, carrying bundles home to the dwellers of
some up-town street.
Katy burst out laughing. "It is an emblem of Paris," she said,--"of our
Paris, I mean. It has been all Bon Marche and fog!"
"Miss Katy," interrupted Amy, "_do_ you like Europe? For my part, I was
never so disgusted with any place in my life!"
"Poor little bird, her views of 'Europe' are rather dark just now, and
no wonder," said her mother. "Never mind, darling, you shall have
something pleasanter by and by if I can find it for you."
"Burnet is a great deal pleasanter than Paris," pronounced Amy,
decidedly. "It doesn't keep always raining there, and I can take walks,
and I understand everything that people say."
All that day they sped southward, and with every hour came a change in
the aspect of their surroundings. Now they made brief stops in large
busy towns which seemed humming with industry. Now they whirled through
grape countries with miles of vineyards, where the brown leaves still
hung on the vines. Then again came glimpses of old Roman ruins,
amphitheatres, viaducts, fragments of wall or arch; or a sudden chill
betokened their approach to mountains, where snowy peaks could be seen
on the far horizon. And when the long night ended and day roused them
from broken slumbers, behold, the world was made over! Autumn had
vanished, and the summer, which they thought fled for good, had taken
his place. Green woods waved about them, fresh leaves were blowing in
the wind, roses and hollyhocks beckoned from white-walled gardens; and
before they had done with exclaiming and rejoicing, the Mediterranean
shot into view, intensely blue, with white fringes of foam, white sails
blowing across, white gulls flying above it, and over all a sky of the
same exquisite blue, whose clouds were white as the drifting sails on
the water below, and they were at Marseilles.
It was like a glimpse of Paradise to eyes fresh from autumnal grays and
glooms, as they sped along the lovely coast, every curve and turn
showing new combinations of sea and shore, olive-crowned cliff and
shining mountain-peak. With every mile the blue became bluer, the wind
softer, the feathery verdure more dense and summer-like. Hyeres and
Cannes and Antibes were passed, and then, as they rounded a long point,
came the view of a sunshiny city lying on a sunlit shore; the train
slackened its speed, and they knew that their journey's end was come and
they were in Nice.
The place seemed to laugh with gayety as they drove down the Promenade
des Anglais and past the English garden, where the band was playing
beneath the acacias and palm-trees. On one side was a line of
bright-windowed hotels and _pensions_, with balconies and striped
awnings; on the other, the long reach of yellow sand-beach, where ladies
were grouped on shawls and rugs, and children ran up and down in the
sun, while beyond stretched the waveless sea. The December sun felt as
warm as on a late June day at home, and had the same soft caressing
touch. The pavements were thronged with groups of leisurely-looking
people, all wearing an unmistakable holiday aspect; pretty girls in
correct Parisian costumes walked demurely beside their mothers, with
cavaliers in attendance; and among these young men appeared now and
again the well-known uniform of the United States Navy.
"I wonder," said Mrs. Ashe, struck by a sudden thought, "if by any
chance our squadron is here." She asked the question the moment they
entered the hotel; and the porter, who prided himself on understanding
"zose Eenglesh," replied,--
"Mais oui, Madame, ze Americaine fleet it is here; zat is, not here,
but at Villefranche, just a leetle four mile away,--it is ze same
"Katy, do you hear that?" cried Mrs. Ashe. "The frigates _are_ here, and
the 'Natchitoches' among them of course; and we shall have Ned to go
about with us everywhere. It is a real piece of good luck for us. Ladies
are at such a loss in a place like this with nobody to escort them. I am
"So am I," said Katy. "I never saw a frigate, and I always wanted to see
one. Do you suppose they will let us go on board of them?"
"Why, of course they will." Then to the porter, "Give me a sheet
of paper and an envelope, please.--I must let Ned know that I am
here at once."
Mrs. Ashe wrote her note and despatched it before they went upstairs to
take off their bonnets. She seemed to have a half-hope that some bird of
the air might carry the news of her arrival to her brother, for she kept
running to the window as if in expectation of seeing him. She was too
restless to lie down or sleep, and after she and Katy had lunched,
proposed that they should go out on the beach for a while.
"Perhaps we may come across Ned," she remarked.
They did not come across Ned, but there was no lack of other
delightful objects to engage their attention. The sands were smooth
and hard as a floor. Soft pink lights were beginning to tinge the
western sky. To the north shone the peaks of the maritime Alps, and
the same rosy glow caught them here and there, and warmed their grays
and whites into color.
"I wonder what that can be?" said Katy, indicating the rocky point which
bounded the beach to the east, where stood a picturesque building of
stone, with massive towers and steep pitches of roof. "It looks half
like a house and half like a castle, but it is quite fascinating, I
think. Do you suppose that people live there?"
"We might ask," suggested Mrs. Ashe.
Just then they came to a shallow river spanned by a bridge, beside whose
pebbly bed stood a number of women who seemed to be washing clothes by
the simple and primitive process of laying them in the water on top of
the stones, and pounding them with a flat wooden paddle till they were
white. Katy privately thought that the clothes stood a poor chance of
lasting through these cleansing operations; but she did not say so, and
made the inquiry which Mrs. Ashe had suggested, in her best French.
"Celle-la?" answered the old woman whom she had addressed. "Mais c'est
la Pension Suisse."
"A _pension_; why, that means a boarding-house," cried Katy. "What fun
it must be to board there!"
"Well, why shouldn't we board there!" said her friend. "You know we
meant to look for rooms as soon as we were rested and had found out a
little about the place. Let us walk on and see what the Pension Suisse
is like. If the inside is as pleasant as the outside, we could not do
better, I should think."
"Oh, I do hope all the rooms are not already taken," said Katy, who had
fallen in love at first sight with the Pension Suisse. She felt quite
oppressed with anxiety as they rang the bell.
The Pension Suisse proved to be quite as charming inside as out. The
thick stone walls made deep sills and embrasures for the casement
windows, which were furnished with red cushions to serve as seats and
lounging-places. Every window seemed to command a view, for those which
did not look toward the sea looked toward the mountains. The house was
by no means full, either. Several sets of rooms were to be had; and Katy
felt as if she had walked straight into the pages of a romance When Mrs.
Ashe engaged for a month a delightful suite of three, a sitting-room and
two sleeping-chambers, in a round tower, with a balcony overhanging the
water, and a side window, from which a flight of steps led down into a
little walled garden, nestled in among the masonry, where tall
laurestinus and lemon trees grew, and orange and brown wallflowers made
the air sweet. Her contentment knew no bounds.
"I am so glad that I came," she told Mrs. Ashe. "I never confessed it to
you before; but sometimes.--when we were sick at sea, you know, and when
it would rain all the time, and after Amy caught that cold in Paris--I
have almost wished, just for a minute or two at a time, that we hadn't.
But now I wouldn't not have come for the world! This is perfectly
delicious. I am glad, glad, glad we are here, and we are going to have a
lovely time, I know."
They were passing out of the rooms into the hall as she said these
words, and two ladies who were walking up a cross passage turned their
heads at the sound of her voice. To her great surprise Katy recognized
Mrs. Page and Lilly.
"Why, Cousin Olivia, is it you?" she cried, springing forward with
the cordiality one naturally feels in seeing a familiar face in a
Mrs. Page seemed rather puzzled than cordial. She put up her eyeglass
and did not seem to quite make out who Katy was.
"It is Katy Carr, mamma," explained Lilly. "Well, Katy, this _is_ a
surprise! Who would have thought of meeting you in Nice!"
There was a decided absence of rapture in Lilly's manner. She was
prettier than ever, as Katy saw in a moment, and beautifully dressed in
soft brown velvet, which exactly suited her complexion and her
pale-colored wavy hair.
"Katy Carr! why, so it is," admitted Mrs. Page. "It is a surprise
indeed. We had no idea that you were abroad. What has brought you so far
from Tunket,--Burnet, I mean? Who are you with?"
"With my friend Mrs. Ashe," explained Katy, rather chilled by this cool
"Let me introduce you. Mrs. Ashe, these are my cousins Mrs. Page and
Miss Page. Amy,--why where is Amy?"
Amy had walked back to the door of the garden staircase, and was
standing there looking down upon the flowers.
Cousin Olivia bowed rather distantly. Her quick eye took in the details
of Mrs. Ashe's travelling-dress and Katy's dark blue ulster.
"Some countrified friend from that dreadful Western town where they
live," she said to herself. "How foolish of Philip Carr to try to send
his girls to Europe! He can't afford it, I know." Her voice was rather
rigid as she inquired,--
"And what brings you here?--to this house, I mean?"
"Oh, we are coming to-morrow to stay; we have taken rooms for a month,"
explained Katy. "What a delicious-looking old place it is."
"Have you?" said Lilly, in a voice which did not express any particular
pleasure. "Why, we are staying here too."
THE PENSION SUISSE.
"What do you suppose can have brought Katy Carr to Europe?" inquired
Lilly, as she stood in the window watching the three figures walk slowly
down the sands. "She is the last person I expected to turn up here. I
supposed she was stuck in that horrid place--what is the name of
it?--where they live, for the rest of her life."
"I confess I am surprised at meeting her myself," rejoined Mrs. Page. "I
had no idea that her father could afford so expensive a journey."
"And who is this woman that she has got along with her?"
"I have no idea, I'm sure. Some Western friend, I suppose."
"Dear me, I wish they were going to some other house than this," said
Lilly, discontentedly. "If they were at the Rivoir, for instance, or one
of those places at the far end of the beach, we shouldn't need to see
anything of them, or even know that they were in town! It's a real
nuisance to have people spring upon you this way, people you don't want
to meet; and when they happen to be relations it is all the worse. Katy
will be hanging on us all the time, I'm afraid."
"Oh, my dear, there is no fear of that. A little repression on our part
will prevent her from being any trouble, I'm quite certain. But we
_must_ treat her politely, you know, Lilly; her father is my cousin."
"That's the saddest part of it! Well, there's one thing, I shall _not_
take her with me every time we go to the frigates," said Lilly,
decisively. "I am not going to inflict a country cousin on Lieutenant
Worthington, and spoil all my own fun beside. So I give you fair
warning, mamma, and you must manage it somehow."
"Certainly, dear, I will. It would be a great pity to have your visit to
Nice spoiled in any way, with the squadron here too, and that pleasant
Mr. Worthington so very attentive."
Unconscious of these plans for her suppression, Katy walked back to the
hotel in a mood of pensive pleasure. Europe at last promised to be as
delightful as it had seemed when she only knew it from maps and books,
and Nice so far appeared to her the most charming place in the world.
Somebody was waiting for them at the Hotel des Anglais,--a tall,
bronzed, good-looking somebody in uniform, with pleasant brown eyes
beaming from beneath a gold-banded cap; at the sight of whom Amy rushed
forward with her long locks flying, and Mrs. Ashe uttered an exclamation
of pleasure. It was Ned Worthington, Mrs. Ashe's only brother, whom she
had not met for two years and a half; and you can easily imagine how
glad she was to see him.
"You got my note then?" she said after the first eager greetings were
over and she had introduced him to Katy.
"Note? No. Did you write me a note?"
"Yes; to Villefranche."
"To the ship? I shan't get that till tomorrow. No; finding out that you
were here is just a bit of good fortune. I came over to call on some
friends who are staying down the beach a little way, and dropping in to
look over the list of arrivals, as I generally do, I saw your names; and
the porter not being able to say which way you had gone, I waited for
you to come in."
"We have been looking at such a delightful old place, the Pension
Suisse, and have taken rooms."
"The Pension Suisse, eh? Why, that was where I was going to call. I know
some people who are staying there. It seems a pleasant house; I'm glad
you are going there, Polly. It's first-rate luck that the ships happen
to be here just now. I can see you every day."
"But, Ned, surely you are not leaving me so soon? Surely you will stay
and dine with us?" urged his sister, as he took up his cap.
"I wish I could, but I can't to-night, Polly. You see I had engaged to
take some ladies out to drive, and they will expect me. I had no idea
that you would be here, or I should have kept myself free,"
apologetically. "Tomorrow I will come over early, and be at your service
for whatever you like to do."
"That's right, dear boy. We shall expect you." Then, the moment he was
gone, "Now, Katy, isn't he nice?"
"Very nice, I should think," said Katy, who had watched the brief
interview with interest. "I like his face so much, and how fond he
is of you!"
"Dear fellow! so he is. I am seven years older than he, but we have
always been intimate. Brothers and sisters are not always intimate, you
know,--or perhaps you don't know, for all of yours are."
"Yes, indeed," said Katy, with a happy smile. "There is nobody like
Clover and Elsie, except perhaps Johnnie and Dorry and Phil," she added
with a laugh.
The remove to the Pension Suisse was made early the next morning. Mrs.
Page and Lilly did not appear to welcome them. Katy rather rejoiced in
their absence, for she wanted the chance to get into order without
There was something comfortable in the thought that they were to stay a
whole month in these new quarters; for so long a time, it seemed worth
while to make them pretty and homelike. So, while Mrs. Ashe unpacked her
own belongings and Amy's, Katy, who had a natural turn for arranging
rooms, took possession of the little parlor, pulled the furniture into
new positions, laid out portfolios and work-cases and their few books,
pinned various photographs which they had bought in Oxford and London on
the walls, and tied back the curtains to admit the sunshine. Then she
paid a visit to the little garden, and came back with a long branch of
laurestinus, which she trained across the mantelpiece, and a bunch of
wallflowers for their one little vase. The maid, by her orders, laid a
fire of wood and pine cones ready for lighting; and when all was done
she called Mrs. Ashe to pronounce upon the effect.
"It is lovely," she said, sinking into a great velvet arm-chair which
Katy had drawn close to the seaward window. "I haven't seen anything so
pleasant since we left home. You are a witch, Katy, and the comfort of
my life. I am so glad I brought you! Now, pray go and unpack your own
things, and make yourself look nice for the second breakfast. We have
been a shabby set enough since we arrived. I saw those cousins of yours
looking askance at our old travelling-dresses yesterday. Let us try to
make a more respectable impression to-day."
So they went down to breakfast, Mrs. Ashe in one of her new Paris gowns,
Katy in a pretty dress of olive serge, and Amy all smiles and ruffled
pinafore, walking hand in hand with her uncle Ned, who had just arrived
and whose great ally she was; and Mrs. Page and Lilly, who were already
seated at table, had much ado to conceal their somewhat unflattering
surprise at the conjunction. For one moment Lilly's eyes opened into a
wide stare of incredulous astonishment; then she remembered herself,
nodded as pleasantly as she could to Mrs. Ashe and Katy, and favored
Lieutenant Worthington with a pretty blushing smile as he went by, while
"Mamma, do you see that? What does it mean?"
"Why, Ned, do you know those people?" asked Mrs. Ashe at the same
"Do _you_ know them!"
"Yes; we met yesterday. They are connections of my friend Miss Carr."
"Really? There is not the least family likeness between them." And Mr.
Worthington's eyes travelled deliberately from Lilly's delicate, golden
prettiness to Katy, who, truth to say, did not shine by the contrast.
"She has a nice, sensible sort of face," he thought, "and she looks like
a lady, but for beauty there is no comparison between the two." Then he
turned to listen to his sister as she replied,--
"No, indeed, not the least; no two girls could be less like." Mrs. Ashe
had made the same comparison, but with quite a different result. Katy's
face was grown dear to her, and she had not taken the smallest fancy to
Her relationship to the young naval officer, however, made a wonderful
difference in the attitude of Mrs. Page and Lilly toward the party. Katy
became a person to be cultivated rather than repressed, and
thenceforward there was no lack of cordiality on their part.
"I want to come in and have a good talk," said Lilly, slipping her arm
through Katy's as they left the dining-room. "Mayn't I come now while
mamma is calling on Mrs. Ashe?" This arrangement brought her to the side
of Lieutenant Worthington, and she walked between him and Katy down the
hall and into the little drawing-room.
"Oh, how perfectly charming! You have been fixing up ever since you
came, haven't you? It looks like home. I wish we had a _salon_, but
mamma thought it wasn't worth while, as we were only to be here such a
little time. What a delicious balcony over the water, too! May I go out
on it? Oh, Mr. Worthington, do see this!"
She pushed open the half-closed window and stepped out as she spoke. Mr.
Worthington, after hesitating a moment, followed. Katy paused uncertain.
There was hardly room for three in the balcony, yet she did not quite
like to leave them. But Lilly had turned her back, and was talking in a
low tone; it was nothing more in reality than the lightest chit-chat,
but it had the air of being something confidential; so Katy, after
waiting a little while, retreated to the sofa, and took up her work,
joining now and then in the conversation which Mrs. Ashe was keeping up
with Cousin Olivia. She did not mind Lilly's ill-breeding, nor was she
surprised at it. Mrs. Ashe was less tolerant.
"Isn't it rather damp out there, Ned?" she called to her brother; "you
had better throw my shawl round Miss Page's shoulders."
"Oh, it isn't a bit damp," said Lilly, recalled to herself by this broad
hint. "Thank you so much for thinking of it, Mrs. Ashe, but I am just
coming in." She seated herself beside Katy, and began to question her
"When did you leave home, and how were they all when you came away?"
"All well, thank you. We sailed from Boston on the 14th of October; and
before that I spent two days with Rose Red,--you remember her? She is
married now, and has the dearest little home and such a darling baby."
"Yes, I heard of her marriage. It didn't seem much of a match for Mr.
Redding's daughter to make, did it? I never supposed she would be
satisfied with anything less than a member of Congress or a Secretary of
"Rose isn't particularly ambitious, I think, and she seems perfectly
happy," replied Katy, flushing.
"Oh, you needn't fire up in her defence; you and Clover always did adore
Rose Red, I know, but I never could see what there was about her that
was so wonderfully fascinating. She never had the least style, and she
was always just as rude to me as she could be."
"You were not intimate at school, but I am sure Rose was never rude,"
said Katy, with spirit.
"Well, we won't fight about her at this late day. Tell me where you have
been, and where you are going, and how long you are to stay in Europe."
Katy, glad to change the subject, complied, and the conversation
diverged into comparison of plans and experiences. Lilly had been in
Europe nearly a year, and had seen "almost everything," as she phrased
it. She and her mother had spent the previous winter in Italy, had taken
a run into Russia, "done" Switzerland and the Tyrol thoroughly, and
France and Germany, and were soon going into Spain, and from there to
Paris, to shop in preparation for their return home in the spring.
"Of course we shall want quantities of things," she said. "No one will
believe that we have been abroad unless we bring home a lot of clothes.
The _lingerie_ and all that is ordered already; but the dresses must be
made at the last moment, and we shall have a horrid time of it, I
suppose. Worth has promised to make me two walking-suits and two
ball-dresses, but he's very bad about keeping his word. Did you do much
when you were in Paris, Katy?"
"We went to the Louvre three times, and to Versailles and St. Cloud,"
said Katy, wilfully misunderstanding her.
"Oh, I didn't mean that kind of stupid thing; I meant gowns. What
did you buy?"
"One tailor-made suit of dark blue cloth."
"My! what moderation!"
Shopping played a large part in Lilly's reminiscences. She recollected
places, not from their situation or beauty or historical associations,
or because of the works of art which they contained, but as the places
where she bought this or that.
"Oh, that dear Piazza di Spagna!" she would say; "that was where I
found my rococo necklace, the loveliest thing you ever saw, Katy." Or,
"Prague--oh yes, mother got the most enchanting old silver chatelaine
there, with all kinds of things hanging to it,--needlecases and watches
and scent-bottles, all solid, and so beautifully chased." Or again,
"Berlin was horrid, we thought; but the amber is better and cheaper
than anywhere else,--great strings of beads, of the largest size and
that beautiful pale yellow, for a hundred francs. You must get yourself
Poor Lilly! Europe to her was all "things." She had collected trunks
full of objects to carry home, but of the other collections which do not
go into trunks, she had little or none. Her mind was as empty, her heart
as untouched as ever; the beauty and the glory and the pathos of art and
history and Nature had been poured out in vain before her closed and
Life soon dropped into a peaceful routine at the Pension Suisse, which
was at the same time restful and stimulating. Katy's first act in the
morning, as soon as she opened her eyes, was to hurry to the window in
hopes of getting a glimpse of Corsica. She had discovered that this
elusive island could almost always be seen from Nice at the dawning, but
that as soon as the sun was fairly up, it vanished to appear no more for
the rest of the day. There was something fascinating to her imagination
in the hovering mountain outline between sea and sky. She felt as if she
were under an engagement to be there to meet it, and she rarely missed
the appointment. Then, after Corsica had pulled the bright mists over
its face and melted from view, she would hurry with her dressing, and as
soon as was practicable set to work to make the _salon_ look bright
before the coffee and rolls should appear, a little after eight o'clock.
Mrs. Ashe always found the fire lit, the little meal cosily set out
beside it, and Katy's happy untroubled face to welcome her when she
emerged from her room; and the cheer of these morning repasts made a
good beginning for the day.
Then came walking and a French lesson, and a long sitting on the beach,
while Katy worked at her home letters and Amy raced up and down in the
sun; and then toward noon Lieutenant Ned generally appeared, and some
scheme of pleasure was set on foot. Mrs. Ashe ignored his evident
_penchant_ for Lilly Page, and claimed his time and attentions as hers
by right. Young Worthington was a good deal "taken" with the pretty
Lilly; still, he had an old-time devotion for his sister and the habit
of doing what she desired, and he yielded to her behests with no audible
objections. He made a fourth in the carriage while they drove over the
lovely hills which encircle Nice toward the north, to Cimiers and the
Val de St. Andre, or down the coast toward Ventimiglia. He went with
them to Monte-Carlo and Mentone, and was their escort again and again
when they visited the great war-ships as they lay at anchor in a bay
which in its translucent blue was like an enormous sapphire.
Mrs. Page and her daughter were included in these parties more than
once; but there was something in Mrs. Ashe's cool appropriation of her
brother which was infinitely vexatious to Lilly, who before her
arrival had rather looked upon Lieutenant Worthington as her own
"I wish _that_ Mrs. Ashe had stayed at home," she told her mother. "She
quite spoils everything. Mr. Worthington isn't half so nice as he was
before she came. I do believe she has a plan for making him fall in love
with Katy; but there she makes a miss of it, for he doesn't seem to care
anything about her."
"Katy is a nice girl enough," pronounced her mother, "but not of the
sort to attract a gay young man, I should fancy. I don't believe _she_
is thinking of any such thing. You needn't be afraid, Lilly."
"I'm not afraid," said Lilly, with a pout; "only it's so provoking."
Mrs. Page was quite right. Katy was not thinking of any such thing. She
liked Ned Worthington's frank manners; she owned, quite honestly, that
she thought him handsome, and she particularly admired the sort of
deferential affection which he showed to Mrs. Ashe, and his nice ways
with Amy. For herself, she was aware that he scarcely noticed her except
as politeness demanded that he should be civil to his sister's friend;
but the knowledge did not trouble her particularly. Her head was full of
interesting things, plans, ideas. She was not accustomed to being made
the object of admiration, and experienced none of the vexations of a
neglected belle. If Lieutenant Worthington happened to talk to her, she
responded frankly and freely; if he did not, she occupied herself with
something else; in either case she was quite unembarrassed both in
feeling and manner, and had none of the awkwardness which comes from
disappointed vanity and baffled expectations, and the need for
Toward the close of December the officers of the flag-ship gave a ball,
which was the great event of the season to the gay world of Nice.
Americans were naturally in the ascendant on an American frigate; and of
all the American girls present, Lilly Page was unquestionably the
prettiest. Exquisitely dressed in white lace, with bands of turquoises
on her neck and arms and in her hair, she had more partners than she
knew what to do with, more bouquets than she could well carry, and
compliments enough to turn any girl's head. Thrown off her guard by her
triumphs, she indulged a little vindictive feeling which had been
growing in her mind of late on account of what she chose to consider
certain derelictions of duty on the part of Lieutenant Worthington, and
treated him to a taste of neglect. She was engaged three deep when he
asked her to dance; she did not hear when he invited her to walk; she
turned a cold shoulder when he tried to talk, and seemed absorbed by the
other cavaliers, naval and otherwise, who crowded about her.
Piqued and surprised, Ned Worthington turned to Katy. She did not dance,
saying frankly that she did not know how and was too tall; and she was
rather simply dressed in a pearl-gray silk, which had been her best gown
the winter before in Burnet, with a bunch of red roses in the white lace
of the tucker, and another in her hand, both the gifts of little Amy;
but she looked pleasant and serene, and there was something about her
which somehow soothed his disturbed mind, as he offered her his arm for
a walk on the decks.
For a while they said little, and Katy was quite content to pace up and
down in silence, enjoying the really beautiful scene,--the moonlight on
the Bay, the deep wavering reflections of the dark hulls and slender
spars, the fairy effect of the colored lamps and lanterns, and the
brilliant moving maze of the dancers.
"Do you care for this sort of thing?" he suddenly asked.
"What sort of thing do you mean?"
"Oh, all this jigging and waltzing and amusement."
"I don't know how to 'jig,' but it's delightful to look on," she
answered merrily. "I never saw anything so pretty in my life."
The happy tone of her voice and the unruffled face which she turned upon
him quieted his irritation.
"I really believe you mean it," he said; "and yet, if you won't think me
rude to say so, most girls would consider the thing dull enough if they
were only getting out of it what you are,--if they were not dancing, I
mean, and nobody in particular was trying to entertain them."
"But everything _is_ being done to entertain me," cried Katy. "I can't
imagine what makes you think that it could seem dull. I am in it all,
don't you see,--I have my share--. Oh, I am stupid, I can't make you
"Yes, you do. I understand perfectly, I think; only it is such a
different point of view from what girls in general would take." (By
girls he meant Lilly!) "Please do not think me uncivil."
"You are not uncivil at all; but don't let us talk any more about me.
Look at the lights between the shadows of the masts on the water. How
they quiver! I never saw anything so beautiful, I think. And how warm it
is! I can't believe that we are in December and that it is nearly
"How is Polly going to celebrate her Christmas? Have you decided?"
"Amy is to have a Christmas-tree for her dolls, and two other dolls are
coming. We went out this morning to buy things for it,--tiny little toys
and candles fit for Lilliput. And that reminds me, do you suppose one
can get any Christmas greens here?"
"Why not? The place seems full of green."
"That's just it; the summer look makes it unnatural. But I should like
some to dress the parlor with if they could be had."
"I'll see what I can find, and send you a load."
I don't know why this very simple little talk should have made an
impression on Lieutenant Worthington's mind, but somehow he did not
"'Don't let us talk any more about me,'" he said to himself that night
when alone in his cabin. "I wonder how long it would be before the other
one did anything to divert the talk from herself. Some time, I fancy."
He smiled rather grimly as he unbuckled his sword-belt. It is unlucky
for a girl when she starts a train of reflection like this. Lilly's
little attempt to pique her admirer had somehow missed its mark.
The next afternoon Katy in her favorite place on the beach was at work
on the long weekly letter which she never failed to send home to Burnet.
She held her portfolio in her lap, and her pen ran rapidly over the
paper, as rapidly almost as her tongue would have run could her
correspondents have been brought nearer.
"Nice, December 22.
"Dear Papa and everybody,--Amy and I are sitting on my old purple
cloak, which is spread over the sand just where it was spread the
last time I wrote you. We are playing the following game: I am a
fairy and she is a little girl. Another fairy--not sitting on the
cloak at present--has enchanted the little girl, and I am telling
her various ways by which she can work out her deliverance. At
present the task is to find twenty-four dull red pebbles of the same
color, failing to do which she is to be changed into an owl. When we
began to play, I was the wicked fairy; but Amy objected to that
because I am 'so nice,' so we changed the characters. I wish you
could see the glee in her pretty gray eyes over this infantile game,
into which she has thrown herself so thoroughly that she half
believes in it. 'But I needn't really be changed into an owl! 'she
says, with a good deal of anxiety in her voice.
"To think that you are shivering in the first snow-storm, or sending
the children out with their sleds and india-rubbers to slide! How I
wish instead that you were sharing the purple cloak with Amy and me,
and could sit all this warm balmy afternoon close to the surf-line
which fringes this bluest of blue seas! There is plenty of room for
you all. Not many people come down to this end of the beach, and if
you were very good we would let you play.
"Our life here goes on as delightfully as ever. Nice is very full of
people, and there seem to be some pleasant ones among them. Here at
the Pension Suisse we do not see a great many Americans. The
fellow-boarders are principally Germans and Austrians with a
sprinkling of French. (Amy has found her twenty-four red pebbles, so
she is let off from being an owl. She is now engaged in throwing
them one by one into the sea. Each must hit the water under penalty
of her being turned into a Muscovy duck. She doesn't know exactly
what a Muscovy duck is, which makes her all the more particular
about her shots.) But, as I was saying, our little _suite_ in the
round tower is so on one side of the rest of the Pension that it is
as good as having a house of our own. The _salon_ is very bright and
sunny; we have two sofas and a square table and a round table and a
sort of what-not and two easy-chairs and two uneasy chairs and a
lamp of our own and a clock. There is also a sofa-pillow. There's
richness for you! We have pinned up all our photographs on the
walls, including Papa's and Clovy's and that bad one of Phil and
Johnnie making faces at each other, and three lovely red and yellow
Japanese pictures on muslin which Rose Red put in my trunk the last
thing, for a spot of color. There are some autumn leaves too; and we
always have flowers and in the mornings and evenings a fire.
"Amy is now finding fifty snow-white pebbles, which when found are
to be interred in one common grave among the shingle. If she fails
to do this, she is to be changed to an electrical eel. The chief
difficulty is that she loses her heart to particular pebbles. 'I
can't bury you,' I hear her saying.
"To return,--we have jolly little breakfasts together in the
_salon_. They consist of coffee and rolls, and are served by a
droll, snappish little _garcon_ with no teeth, and an Italian-French
patois which is very hard to understand when he sputters. He told me
the other day that he had been a _garcon_ for forty-six years, which
seemed rather a long boyhood.
"The company, as we meet them at table, are rather entertaining.
Cousin Olivia and Lilly are on their best behavior to me because I
am travelling with Mrs. Ashe, and Mrs. Ashe is Lieutenant
Worthington's sister, and Lieutenant Worthington is Lilly's admirer,
and they like him very much. In fact, Lilly has intimated
confidentially that she is all but engaged to him; but I am not sure
about it, or if that was what she meant; and I fear, if it proves
true, that dear Polly will not like it at all. She is quite
unmanageable, and snubs Lilly continually in a polite way, which
makes me fidgety for fear Lilly will be offended, but she never
seems to notice it. Cousin Olivia looks very handsome and gorgeous.
She quite takes the color out of the little Russian Countess who
sits next to her, and who is as dowdy and meek as if she came from
Akron or Binghampton, or any other place where countesses are
unknown. Then there are two charming, well-bred young Austrians. The
one who sits nearest to me is a 'Candidat' for a Doctorate of Laws,
and speaks eight languages well. He has only studied English for the
past six weeks, but has made wonderful progress. I wish my French
were half as good as his English is already.
"There is a very gossiping young woman on the story beneath ours,
whom I meet sometimes in the garden, and from her I hear all manner
of romantic tales about people in the house. One little French girl
is dying of consumption and a broken heart, because of a quarrel
with her lover, who is a courier; and the _padrona_, who is young
and pretty, and has only been married a few months to our elderly
landlord, has a story also. I forget some of the details; but there
was a stern parent and an admirer, and a cup of cold poison, and now
she says she wishes she were dying of consumption like poor
Alphonsine. For all that, she looks quite fat and rosy, and I often
see her in her best gown with a great deal of Roman scarf and mosaic
jewelry, stationed in the doorway, 'making the Pension look
attractive to the passers-by.' So she has a sense of duty, though
she is unhappy.
"Amy has buried all her pebbles, and says she is tired of playing
fairy. She is now sitting with her head on my shoulder, and
professedly studying her French verb for to-morrow, but in reality,
I am sorry to say, she is conversing with me about be-headings,--a
subject which, since her visit to the Tower, has exercised a
horrible fascination over her mind. 'Do people die right away?' she
asks. 'Don't they feel one minute, and doesn't it feel awfully?'
There is a good deal of blood, she supposes, because there was so
much straw laid about the block in the picture of Lady Jane Gray's
execution, which enlivened our walls in Paris. On the whole, I am
rather glad that a fat little white dog has come waddling down the
beach and taken off her attention.
"Speaking of Paris seems to renew the sense of fog which we had
there. Oh, how enchanting sunshine is after weeks of gloom! I shall
never forget how the Mediterranean looked when we saw it first,--all
blue, and such a lovely color. There ought, according to Morse's
Atlas, to have been a big red letter T on the water about where we
were, but I didn't see any. Perhaps they letter it so far out from
shore that only people in boats notice it.
"Now the dusk is fading, and the odd chill which hides under these
warm afternoons begins to be felt. Amy has received a message
written on a mysterious white pebble to the effect--"
Katy was interrupted at this point by a crunching step on the gravel
"Good afternoon," said a voice. "Polly has sent me to fetch you and Amy
in. She says it is growing cool."
"We were just coming," said Katy, beginning to put away her papers.
Ned Worthington sat down on the cloak beside her. The distance was now
steel gray against the sky; then came a stripe of violet, and then a
broad sheet of the vivid iridescent blue which one sees on the necks of
peacocks, which again melted into the long line of flashing surf.
"See that gull," he said, "how it drops plumb into the sea, as if bound
to go through to China!"
"Mrs. Hawthorne calls skylarks 'little raptures,'" replied Katy.
"Sea-gulls seem to me like grown-up raptures."
"Are you going?" said Lieutenant Worthington in a tone of surprise,
as she rose.
"Didn't you say that Polly wanted us to come in?"
"Why, yes; but it seems too good to leave, doesn't it? Oh, by the way,
Miss Carr, I came across a man to-day and ordered your greens. They will
be sent on Christmas Eve. Is that right?"
"Quite right, and we are ever so much obliged to you." She turned for a
last look at the sea, and, unseen by Ned Worthington, formed her lips
into a "good-night." Katy had made great friends with the Mediterranean.
The promised "greens" appeared on the afternoon before Christmas Day, in
the shape of an enormous fagot of laurel and laurestinus and holly and
box; orange and lemon boughs with ripe fruit hanging from them, thick
ivy tendrils whole yards long, arbutus, pepper tree, and great branches
of acacia, covered with feathery yellow bloom. The man apologized for
bringing so little. The gentleman had ordered two francs worth, he said,
but this was all he could carry; he would fetch some more if the young
lady wished! But Katy, exclaiming with delight over her wealth, wished
no more; so the man departed, and the three friends proceeded to turn
the little _salon_ into a fairy bower. Every photograph and picture was
wreathed in ivy, long garlands hung on either side the windows, and the
chimney-piece and door-frames became clustering banks of leaf and
blossom. A great box of flowers had come with the greens, and bowls of
fresh roses and heliotrope and carnations were set everywhere; violets
and primroses, gold-hearted brown auriculas, spikes of veronica, all the
zones and all the seasons, combining to make the Christmas-tide sweet,
and to turn winter topsy-turvy in the little parlor.
Mabel and Mary Matilda, with their two doll visitors, sat gravely round
the table, in the laps of their little mistresses; and Katy, putting on
an apron and an improvised cap, and speaking Irish very fast, served
them with a repast of rolls and cocoa, raspberry jam, and delicious
little almond cakes. The fun waxed fast and furious; and Lieutenant
Worthington, coming in with his hands full of parcels for the
Christmas-tree, was just in time to hear Katy remark in a strong County
"Och, thin indade, Miss Amy, and it's no more cake you'll be getting out
of me the night. That's four pieces you've ate, and it's little slape
your poor mother'll git with you a tossin' and tumblin' forenenst her
all night long because of your big appetite."
"Oh, Miss Katy, talk Irish some more!" cried the delighted children.
"Is it Irish you'd be afther having me talk, when it's me own langwidge,
and sorrow a bit of another do I know?" demanded Katy. Then she caught
sight of the new arrival and stopped short with a blush and a laugh.
"Come in, Mr. Worthington," she said; "we're at supper, as you see, and
I am acting as waitress."
"Oh, Uncle Ned, please go away," pleaded Amy, "or Katy will be polite,
and not talk Irish any more."
"Indade, and the less ye say about politeness the betther, when ye're
afther ordering the jantleman out of the room in that fashion!" said the
waitress. Then she pulled off her cap and untied her apron.
"Now for the Christmas-tree," she said.
It was a very little tree, but it bore some remarkable fruits; for in
addition to the "tiny toys and candles fit for Lilliput," various
parcels were found to have been hastily added at the last moment for
various people. The "Natchitoches" had lately come from the Levant, and
delightful Oriental confections now appeared for Amy and Mrs. Ashe;
Turkish slippers, all gold embroidery; towels, with richly decorated
ends in silks and tinsel;--all the pretty superfluities which the East
holds out to charm gold from the pockets of her Western visitors. A
pretty little dagger in agate and silver fell to Katy's share out of
what Lieutenant Worthington called his "loot;" and beside, a most
beautiful specimen of the inlaid work for which Nice is famous,--a
looking-glass, with a stand and little doors to close it in,--which was
a present from Mrs. Ashe. It was quite unlike a Christmas Eve at home,
but altogether delightful; and as Katy sat next morning on the sand,
after the service in the English church, to finish her home letter, and
felt the sun warm on her cheek, and the perfumed air blow past as softly
as in June, she had to remind herself that Christmas is not necessarily
synonymous with snow and winter, but means the great central heat and
warmth, the advent of Him who came to lighten the whole earth.
A few days after this pleasant Christmas they left Nice. All of them
felt a reluctance to move, and Amy loudly bewailed the necessity.
"If I could stay here till it is time to go home, I shouldn't be
homesick at all," she declared.
"But what a pity it would be not to see Italy!" said her mother. "Think
of Naples and Rome and Venice."
"I don't want to think about them. It makes me feel as if I was studying
a great long geography lesson, and it tires me so to learn it."
"Amy, dear, you're not well."
"Yes, I am,--quite well; only I don't want to go away from Nice."
"You only have to learn a little bit at a time of your geography lesson,
you know," suggested Katy; "and it's a great deal nicer way to study it
than out of a book." But though she spoke cheerfully she was conscious
that she shared Amy's reluctance.
"It's all laziness," she told herself. "Nice has been so pleasant that
it has spoiled me."
It was a consolation and made going easier that they were to drive over
the famous Cornice Road as far as San Remo, instead of going to Genoa
by rail as most travellers now-a-days do. They departed from the
Pension Suisse early on an exquisite morning, fair and balmy as June,
but with a little zest and sparkle of coolness in the air which made it
additionally delightful. The Mediterranean was of the deepest
violet-blue; a sort of bloom of color seemed to lie upon it. The sky
was like an arch of turquoise; every cape and headland shone jewel-like
in the golden sunshine. The carriage, as it followed the windings of
the road cut shelf-like on the cliffs, seemed poised between earth and
heaven; the sea below, the mountain summits above, with a fairy world
of verdure between. The journey was like a dream of enchantment and
rapidly changing surprises; and when it ended in a quaint hostelry at
San Remo, with palm-trees feathering the Bordighera Point and Corsica,
for once seen by day, lying in bold, clear outlines against the sunset,
Katy had to admit to herself that Nice, much as she loved it, was not
the only, not even the most beautiful place in Europe. Already she felt
her horizon growing, her convictions changing; and who should say what
The next day brought them to Genoa, to a hotel once the stately palace
of an archbishop, where they were lodged, all three together, in an
enormous room, so high and broad and long that their three little
curtained beds set behind a screen of carved wood made no impression on
the space. There were not less than four sofas and double that number of
arm-chairs in the room, besides a couple of monumental wardrobes; but,
as Katy remarked, several grand pianos could still have been moved in
without anybody's feeling crowded. On one side of them lay the port of
Genoa, filled with craft from all parts of the world, and flying the
flags of a dozen different nations. From the other they caught glimpses
of the magnificent old city, rising in tier over tier of churches and
palaces and gardens; while nearer still were narrow streets, which
glittered with gold filigree and the shops of jewel-workers. And while
they went in and out and gazed and wondered, Lilly Page, at the Pension
Suisse, was saying,--
"I am so glad that Katy and _that_ Mrs. Ashe are gone. Nothing has been
so pleasant since they came. Lieutenant Worthington is dreadfully stiff
and stupid, and seems quite different from what he used to be. But now
that we have got rid of them it will all come right again."
"I really don't think that Katy was to blame," said Mrs. Page. "She
never seemed to me to be making any effort to attract him."
"Oh, Katy is sly," responded Lilly, vindictively. "She never _seems_ to
do anything, but somehow she always gets her own way. I suppose she
thought I didn't see her keeping him down there on the beach the other
day when he was coming in to call on us, but I did. It was just out of
spite, and because she wanted to vex me; I know it was."
"Well, dear, she's gone now, and you won't be worried with her again,"
said her mother, soothingly. "Don't pout so, Lilly, and wrinkle up your
forehead. It's very unbecoming."
"Yes, she's gone," snapped Lilly; "and as she's bound for the East, and
we for the West, we are not likely to meet again, for which I am
ON THE TRACK OF ULYSSES.
"We are going to follow the track of Ulysses," said Katy, with her eyes
fixed on the little travelling-map in her guide-book. "Do you realize
that, Polly dear? He and his companions sailed these very seas before
us, and we shall see the sights they saw,--Circe's Cape and the Isles of
the Sirens, and Polyphemus himself, perhaps, who knows?"
The "Marco Polo" had just cast off her moorings, and was slowly steaming
out of the crowded port of Genoa into the heart of a still rosy sunset.
The water was perfectly smooth; no motion could be felt but the engine's
throb. The trembling foam of the long wake showed glancing points of
phosphorescence here and there, while low on the eastern sky a great
silver planet burned like a signal lamp.
"Polyphemus was a horrible giant. I read about him once, and I don't
want to see him," observed Amy, from her safe protected perch in her
"He may not be so bad now as he was in those old times. Some missionary
may have come across him and converted him. If he were good, you
wouldn't mind his being big, would you?" suggested Katy.
"N-o," replied Amy, doubtfully; "but it would take a great lot of
missionaries to make _him_ good, I should think. One all alone would be
afraid to speak to him. We shan't really see him, shall we?"
"I don't believe we shall; and if we stuff cotton in our ears and look
the other way, we need not hear the sirens sing," said Katy, who was in
the highest spirits.--"And oh, Polly dear, there is one delightful thing
I forgot to tell you about. The captain says he shall stay in Leghorn
all day to-morrow taking on freight, and we shall have plenty of time to
run up to Pisa and see the Cathedral and the Leaning Tower and
everything else. Now, that is something Ulysses didn't do! I am so glad
I didn't die of measles when I was little, as Rose Red used to say." She
gave her book a toss into the air as she spoke, and caught it again as
it fell, very much as the Katy Carr of twelve years ago might have done.
"What a child you are!" said Mrs. Ashe, approvingly; "you never seem out
of sorts or tired of things."
"Out of sorts? I should think not! And pray why should I be,
Katy had taken to calling her friend "Polly dear" of late,--a trick
picked up half unconsciously from Lieutenant Ned. Mrs. Ashe liked it;
it was sisterly and intimate, she said, and made her feel nearer
"Does the tower really lean?" questioned Amy,--"far over, I mean, so
that we can see it?"
"We shall know to-morrow," replied Katy. "If it doesn't, I shall lose
all my confidence in human nature."
Katy's confidence in human nature was not doomed to be impaired. There
stood the famous tower, when they reached the Place del Duomo in Pisa,
next morning, looking all aslant, exactly as it does in the pictures and
the alabaster models, and seeming as if in another moment it must topple
over, from its own weight, upon their heads. Mrs. Ashe declared that it
was so unnatural that it made her flesh creep; and when she was coaxed
up the winding staircase to the top, she turned so giddy that they were
all thankful to get her safely down to firm ground again. She turned her
back upon the tower, as they crossed the grassy space to the majestic
old Cathedral, saying that if she thought about it any more, she should
become a disbeliever in the attraction of gravitation, which she had
always been told all respectable people _must_ believe in.
The guide showed them the lamp swinging by a long slender chain, before
which Galileo is said to have sat and pondered while he worked out his
theory of the pendulum. This lamp seemed a sort of own cousin to the
attraction of gravitation, and they gazed upon it with respect. Then
they went to the Baptistery to see Niccolo Pisano's magnificent pulpit
of creamy marble, a mass of sculpture supported on the backs of lions,
and the equally lovely font, and to admire the extraordinary sound
which their guide evoked from a mysterious echo, with which he seemed
to be on intimate terms, for he made it say whatever he would and
almost "answer back."
It was in coming out of the Baptistery that they met with an adventure
which Amy could never quite forget. Pisa is the mendicant city of Italy,
and her streets are infested with a band of religious beggars who call
themselves the Brethren of the Order of Mercy. They wear loose black
gowns, sandals laced over their bare feet, and black cambric masks with
holes, through which their eyes glare awfully; and they carry tin cups
for the reception of offerings, which they thrust into the faces of all
strangers visiting the city, whom they look upon as their lawful prey.
As our party emerged from the Baptistery, two of these Brethren espied
them, and like great human bats came swooping down upon them with long
strides, their black garments flying in the wind, their eyes rolling
strangely behind their masks, and brandishing their alms-cups, which had
"Pour les Pauvres" lettered upon them, and gave forth a clapping sound
like a watchman's rattle. There was something terrible in their
appearance and the rushing speed of their movements. Amy screamed and
ran behind her mother, who visibly shrank. Katy stood her ground; but
the bat-winged fiends in Dore's illustrations to Dante occurred to her,
and her fingers trembled as she dropped some money in the cups.
Even mendicant friars are human. Katy ceased to tremble as she observed
that one of them, as he retreated, walked backward for some distance in
order to gaze longer at Mrs. Ashe, whose cheeks were flushed with bright
pink and who was looking particularly handsome. She began to laugh
instead, and Mrs. Ashe laughed too; but Amy could not get over the
impression of having been attacked by demons, and often afterward
recurred with a shudder to the time when those awful black _things_ flew
at her and she hid behind mamma. The ghastly pictures of the Triumph of
Death, which were presently exhibited to them on the walls of the Campo
Santo, did not tend to reassure her, and it was with quite a pale,
scared little face that she walked toward the hotel where they were to
lunch, and she held fast to Katy's hand.
Their way led them through a narrow street inhabited by the poorer
classes,--a dusty street with high shabby buildings on either side and
wide doorways giving glimpses of interior courtyards, where empty
hogsheads and barrels and rusty caldrons lay, and great wooden trays of
macaroni were spread out in the sun to dry. Some of the macaroni was
gray, some white, some yellow; none of it looked at all desirable to
eat, as it lay exposed to the dust, with long lines of ill-washed
clothes flapping above on wires stretched from one house to another. As
is usual in poor streets, there were swarms of children; and the
appearance of little Amy with her long bright hair falling over her
shoulders and Mabel clasped in her arms created a great sensation. The
children in the street shouted and exclaimed, and other children within
the houses heard the sounds and came trooping out, while mothers and
older sisters peeped from the doorways. The very air seemed full of
eager faces and little brown and curly heads bobbing up and down with
excitement, and black eyes all fixed upon big beautiful Mabel, who with
her thick wig of flaxen hair, her blue velvet dress and jacket,
feathered hat, and little muff, seemed to them like some strange small
marvel from another world. They could not decide whether she was a
living child or a make-believe one, and they dared not come near enough
to find out; so they clustered at a little distance, pointed with their
fingers, and whispered and giggled, while Amy, much pleased with the
admiration shown for her darling, lifted Mabel up to view.
At last one droll little girl with a white cap on her round head seemed
to make up _her_ mind, and darting indoors returned with her doll,--a
poor little image of wood, its only garment a coarse shirt of red
cotton. This she held out for Amy to see. Amy smiled for the first time
since her encounter with the bat-like friars; and Katy, taking Mabel
from her, made signs that the two dolls should kiss each other. But
though the little Italian screamed with laughter at the idea of a
_bacio_ between two dolls, she would by no means allow it, and hid her
treasure behind her back, blushing and giggling, and saying something
very fast which none of them understood, while she waved two fingers at
them with a curious gesture.
"I do believe she is afraid Mabel will cast the evil eye on her doll,"
said Katy at last, with a sudden understanding as to what this
"Why, you silly thing!" cried the outraged Amy; "do you suppose for one
moment that my child could hurt your dirty old dolly? You ought to be
glad to have her noticed at all by anybody that's clean."
The sound of the foreign tongue completed the discomfiture of the
little Italian. With a shriek she fled, and all the other children
after her; pausing at a distance to look back at the alarming creatures
who didn't speak the familiar language. Katy, wishing to leave a
pleasant impression, made Mabel kiss her waxen fingers toward them.
This sent the children off into another fit of laughter and chatter,
and they followed our friends for quite a distance as they proceeded on
their way to the hotel.
All that night, over a sea as smooth as glass, the "Marco Polo" slipped
along the coasts past which the ships of Ulysses sailed in those old
legendary days which wear so charmed a light to our modern eyes. Katy
roused at three in the morning, and looking from her cabin window had a
glimpse of an island, which her map showed her must be Elba, where that
war-eagle Napoleon was chained for a while. Then she fell asleep again,
and when she roused in full daylight the steamer was off the coast of
Ostia and nearing the mouth of the Tiber. Dreamy mountain-shapes rose
beyond the far-away Campagna, and every curve and indentation of the
coast bore a name which recalled some interesting thing.
About eleven a dim-drawn bubble appeared on the horizon, which the
captain assured them was the dome of St. Peter's, nearly thirty miles
distant. This was one of the "moments" which Clover had been fond of
speculating about; and Katy, contrasting the real with the imaginary
moment, could not help smiling. Neither she nor Clover had ever supposed
that her first glimpse of the great dome was to be so little impressive.
On and on they went till the air-hung bubble disappeared; and Amy, grown
very tired of scenery with which she had no associations, and grown-up
raptures which she did not comprehend, squeezed herself into the end of
the long wooden settee on which Katy sat, and began to beg for another
story concerning Violet and Emma.
"Just a little tiny chapter, you know, Miss Katy, about what they did on
New Year's Day or something. It's so dull to keep sailing and sailing
all day and have nothing to do, and it's ever so long since you told me
anything about them, really and truly it is!"
Now, Violet and Emma, if the truth is to be told, had grown to be the
bane of Katy's existence. She had rung the changes on their uneventful
adventures, and racked her brains to invent more and more details, till
her imagination felt like a dry sponge from which every possible drop of
moisture had been squeezed. Amy was insatiable. Her interest in the tale
never flagged; and when her exhausted friend explained that she really
could not think of another word to say on the subject, she would turn
the tables by asking, "Then, Miss Katy, mayn't I tell _you_ a chapter?"
whereupon she would proceed somewhat in this fashion:--
"It was the day before Christmas--no, we won't have it the day before
Christmas; it shall be three days before Thanksgiving. Violet and Emma
got up in the morning, and--well, they didn't do anything in particular
that day. They just had their breakfasts and dinners, and played and
studied a little, and went to bed early, you know, and the next morning
--well, there didn't much happen that day, either; they just had their
breakfasts and dinners, and played."
Listening to Amy's stories was so much worse than telling them to her,
that Katy in self-defence was driven to recommence her narrations, but
she had grown to hate Violet and Emma with a deadly hatred. So when Amy
made this appeal on the steamer's deck, a sudden resolution took
possession of her, and she decided to put an end to these dreadful
children once for all.
"Yes, Amy," she said, "I will tell you one more story about Violet and
Emma; but this is positively the last."
So Amy cuddled close to her friend, and listened with rapt attention as
Katy told how on a certain day just before the New Year, Violet and Emma
started by themselves in a little sleigh drawn by a pony, to carry to a
poor woman who lived in a lonely house high up on a mountain slope a
basket containing a turkey, a mould of cranberry jelly, a bunch of
celery, and a mince-pie.
"They were so pleased at having all these nice things to take to poor
widow Simpson and in thinking how glad she would be to see them,"
proceeded the naughty Katy, "that they never noticed how black the sky
was getting to be, or how the wind howled through the bare boughs of the
trees. They had to go slowly, for the road was up hill all the way, and
it was hard work for the poor pony. But he was a stout little fellow,
and tugged away up the slippery track, and Violet and Emma talked and
laughed, and never thought what was going to happen. Just half-way up
the mountain there was a rocky cliff which overhung the road, and on
this cliff grew an enormous hemlock tree. The branches were loaded with
snow, which made them much heavier than usual. Just as the sleigh passed
slowly underneath the cliff, a violent blast of wind blew up from the
ravine, struck the hemlock and tore it out of the ground, roots and all.
It fell directly across the sleigh, and Violet and Emma and the pony and
the basket with the turkey and the other things in it were all crushed
as flat as pancakes!"
"Well," said Amy, as Katy stopped, "go on! what happened then?"
"Nothing happened then," replied Katy, in a tone of awful solemnity;
"nothing could happen! Violet and Emma were dead, the pony was dead, the
things in the basket were broken all to little bits, and a great
snowstorm began and covered them up, and no one knew where they were or
what had become of them till the snow melted in the spring."
With a loud shriek Amy jumped up from the bench.
"No! no! no!" she cried; "they aren't dead! I won't let them be dead!"
Then she burst into tears, ran down the stairs, locked herself into her
mother's stateroom, and did not appear again for several hours.
Katy laughed heartily at first over this outburst, but presently she
began to repent and to think that she had treated her pet unkindly. She
went down and knocked at the stateroom door; but Amy would not answer.
She called her softly through the key-hole, and coaxed and pleaded, but
it was all in vain. Amy remained invisible till late in the afternoon;
and when she finally crept up again to the deck, her eyes were red with
crying, and her little face as pale and miserable as if she had been
attending the funeral of her dearest friend.
Katy's heart smote her.
"Come here, my darling," she said, holding out her hand; "come and sit
in my lap and forgive me. Violet and Emma shall not be dead. They shall
go on living, since you care so much for them, and I will tell stories
about them to the end of the chapter."
"No," said Amy, shaking her head mournfully; "you can't. They're dead,
and they won't come to life again ever. It's all over, and I'm so
All Katy's apologies and efforts to resuscitate the story were useless.
Violet and Emma were dead to Amy's imagination, and she could not make
herself believe in them any more.
She was too woe-begone to care for the fables of Circe and her swine
which Katy told as they rounded the magnificent Cape Circello, and the
isles where the sirens used to sing appealed to her in vain. The sun
set, the stars came out; and under the beams of their countless lamps
and the beckonings of a slender new moon, the "Marco Polo" sailed into
the Bay of Naples, past Vesuvius, whose dusky curl of smoke could be
seen outlined against the luminous sky, and brought her passengers to
They woke next morning to a summer atmosphere full of yellow sunshine
and true July warmth. Flower-vendors stood on every corner, and pursued
each newcomer with their fragrant wares. Katy could not stop exclaiming
over the cheapness of the flowers, which were thrust in at the carriage
windows as they drove slowly up and down the streets. They were tied
into flat nosegays, whose centre was a white camellia, encircled with
concentric rows of pink tea rosebuds, ring after ring, till the whole
was the size of an ordinary milk-pan; all to be had for the sum of ten
cents! But after they had bought two or three of these enormous
bouquets, and had discovered that not a single rose boasted an inch of
stem, and that all were pierced with long wires through their very
hearts, she ceased to care for them.
"I would rather have one Souvenir or General Jacqueminot, with a long
stem and plenty of leaves, than a dozen of these stiff platters of
bouquets," Katy told Mrs. Ashe. But when they drove beyond the city
gates, and the coachman came to anchor beneath walls overhung with the
same roses, and she found that she might stand on the seat and pull down
as many branches of the lovely flowers as she desired, and gather
wallflowers for herself out of the clefts in the masonry, she was
"This is the Italy of my dreams," she said.
With all its beauty there was an underlying sense of danger about
Naples, which interfered with their enjoyment of it. Evil smells came
in at the windows, or confronted them as they went about the city.
There seemed something deadly in the air. Whispered reports met their
ears of cases of fever, which the landlords of the hotels were doing
their best to hush up. An American gentleman was said to be lying very
ill at one house. A lady had died the week before at another. Mrs. Ashe
"We will just take a rapid look at a few of the principal things," she
told Katy, "and then get away as fast as we can. Amy is so on my mind
that I have no peace of my life. I keep feeling her pulse and imagining
that she does not look right; and though I know it is all my fancy, I am
impatient to be off. You won't mind, will you, Katy?"
After that everything they did was done in a hurry. Katy felt as if she
were being driven about by a cyclone, as they rushed from one sight to
another, filling up all the chinks between with shopping, which was
irresistible where everything was so pretty and so wonderfully cheap.
She herself purchased a tortoise-shell fan and chain for Rose Red, and
had her monogram carved upon it; a coral locket for Elsie; some studs
for Dorry; and for her father a small, beautiful vase of bronze, copied
from one of the Pompeian antiques.
"How charming it is to have money to spend in such a place as this!" she
said to herself with a sigh of satisfaction as she surveyed these
delightful buyings. "I only wish I could get ten times as many things
and take them to ten times as many people. Papa was so wise about it. I
can't think how it is that he always knows beforehand exactly how people
are going to feel, and what they will want!"
Mrs. Ashe also bought a great many things for herself and Amy, and to
take home as presents; and it was all very pleasant and satisfactory
except for that subtle sense of danger from which they could not escape
and which made them glad to go. "See Naples and die," says the old
adage; and the saying has proved sadly true in the case of many an
Beside the talk of fever there was also a good deal of gossip about
brigands going about, as is generally the case in Naples and its
vicinity. Something was said to have happened to a party on one of the
heights above Sorrento; and though nobody knew exactly what the
something was, or was willing to vouch for the story, Mrs. Ashe and
Katy felt a good deal of trepidation as they entered the carriage which
was to take them to the neighborhood where the mysterious "something"
The drive between Castellamare and Sorrento is in reality as safe as
that between Boston and Brookline; but as our party did not know this
fact till afterward, it did them no good. It is also one of the most
beautiful drives in the world, following the windings of the exquisite
coast mile after mile, in long links of perfectly made road, carved on
the face of sharp cliffs, with groves of oranges and lemons and olive
orchards above, and the Bay of Naples beneath, stretching away like a
solid sheet of lapis-lazuli, and gemmed with islands of the most
It is a pity that so much beauty should have been wasted on Mrs. Ashe
and Katy, but they were too frightened to half enjoy it. Their carriage
was driven by a shaggy young savage, who looked quite wild enough to be
a bandit himself. He cracked his whip loudly as they rolled along, and
every now and then gave a long shrill whistle. Mrs. Ashe was sure that
these were signals to his band, who were lurking somewhere on the
olive-hung hillsides. She thought she detected him once or twice making
signs to certain questionable-looking characters as they passed; and she
fancied that the people they met gazed at them with an air of
commiseration, as upon victims who were being carried to execution. Her
fears affected Katy; so, though they talked and laughed, and made jokes
to amuse Amy, who must not be scared or led to suppose that anything was
amiss, and to the outward view seemed a very merry party, they were
privately quaking in their shoes all the way, and enjoying a deal of
highly superfluous misery. And after all they reached Sorrento in
perfect safety; and the driver, who looked so dangerous, turned out to
be a respectable young man enough, with a wife and family to support,
who considered a plateful of macaroni and a glass of sour red wine as
the height of luxury, and was grateful for a small gratuity of thirty
cents or so, which would enable him to purchase these dainties. Mrs.
Ashe had a very bad headache next day, to pay for her fright; but she
and Katy agreed that they had been very foolish, and resolved to pay no
more attention to unaccredited rumors or allow them to spoil their
enjoyment, which was a sensible resolution to make.
Their hotel was perched directly over the sea. From the balcony of their
sitting-room they looked down a sheer cliff some sixty feet high, into
the water; their bedrooms opened on a garden of roses, with an orange
grove beyond. Not far from them was the great gorge which cuts the
little town of Sorrento almost in two, and whose seaward end makes the
harbor of the place. Katy was never tired of peering down into this
strange and beautiful cleft, whose sides, two hundred feet in depth, are
hung with vines and trailing growths of all sorts, and seem all
a-tremble with the fairy fronds of maiden-hair ferns growing out of
every chink and crevice. She and Amy took walks along the coast toward
Massa, to look off at the lovely island shapes in the bay, and admire
the great clumps of cactus and Spanish bayonet which grew by the
roadside; and they always came back loaded with orange-flowers, which
could be picked as freely as apple-blossoms from New England orchards in
the spring. The oranges themselves at that time of the year were very
sour, but they answered as well for a romantic date, "From an orange
grove," as if they had been the sweetest in the world.
They made two different excursions to Pompeii, which is within easy
distance of Sorrento. They scrambled on donkeys over the hills, and had
glimpses of the far-away Calabrian shore, of the natural arch, and the
temples of Paestum shining in the sun many miles distant. On Katy's
birthday, which fell toward the end of January, Mrs. Ashe let her have
her choice of a treat; and she elected to go to the Island of Capri,
which none of them had seen. It turned out a perfect day, with sea and
wind exactly right for the sail, and to allow of getting into the famous
"Blue Grotto," which can only be entered under particular conditions of
tide and weather. And they climbed the great cliff-rise at the island's
end, and saw the ruins of the villa built by the wicked emperor
Tiberius, and the awful place known as his "Leap," down which, it is
said, he made his victims throw themselves; and they lunched at a hotel
which bore his name, and just at sunset pushed off again for the row
home over the charmed sea. This return voyage was almost the pleasantest
thing of all the day. The water was smooth, the moon at its full. It was
larger and more brilliant than American moons are, and seemed to possess
an actual warmth and color. The boatmen timed their oar-strokes to the
cadence of Neapolitan _barcaroles_ and folk-songs, full of rhythmic
movement, which seemed caught from the pulsing tides. And when at last
the bow grated on the sands of the Sorrento landing-place, Katy drew a
long, regretful breath, and declared that this was her best
birthday-gift of all, better than Amy's flowers, or the pretty
tortoise-shell locket that Mrs. Ashe had given her, better even than the
letter from home, which, timed by happy accident, had arrived by the
morning's post to make a bright opening for the day.
All pleasant things must come to an ending.
"Katy," said Mrs. Ashe, one afternoon in early February, "I heard some
ladies talking just now in the _salon_, and they said that Rome is
filling up very fast. The Carnival begins in less than two weeks, and
everybody wants to be there then. If we don't make haste, we shall not
be able to get any rooms."
"Oh dear!" said Katy, "it is very trying not to be able to be in two
places at once. I want to see Rome dreadfully, and yet I cannot bear to
leave Sorrento. We have been very happy here, haven't we?"
So they took up their wandering staves again, and departed for Rome,
like the Apostle, "not knowing what should befall them there."
A ROMAN HOLIDAY.
"Oh dear!" said Mrs. Ashe, as she folded her letters and laid them
aside, "I wish those Pages would go away from Nice, or else that the
frigates were not there."
"Why! what's the matter?" asked Katy, looking up from the many-leaved
journal from Clover over which she was poring.
"Nothing is the matter except that those everlasting people haven't gone
to Spain yet, as they said they would, and Ned seems to keep on seeing
them," replied Mrs. Ashe, petulantly.
"But, dear Polly, what difference does it make? And they never did
promise you to go on any particular time, did they?"
"N-o, they didn't; but I wish they would, all the same. Not that Ned is
such a goose as really to care anything for that foolish Lilly!" Then
she gave a little laugh at her own inconsistency, and added, "But I
oughtn't to abuse her when she is your cousin."
"Don't mention it," said Katy, cheerfully. "But, really, I don't see why
poor Lilly need worry you so, Polly dear."
The room in which this conversation took place was on the very topmost
floor of the Hotel del Hondo in Rome. It was large and many-windowed;
and though there was a little bed in one corner half hidden behind a
calico screen, with a bureau and washing-stand, and a sort of stout
mahogany hat-tree on which Katy's dresses and jackets were hanging, the