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ineffable manner in which her masters reproduced the idea of the stern, cold pride of aloofness in these sublime types of perfect men, wrung my heart with a sense of personal loss. I can imagine that Pygmalion felt about Galatea as I felt that first hour in the Acropolis. I can imagine that a woman who had loved with the passion of her life a man of matchless integrity, of superb pride, of lofty ideals, and who had lost that love irretrievably through a fault of her own, whose gravity she first saw through his eyes when it was too late, might have felt as I felt in that hour. All the agony of a hopeless love for an art which never can return; all the sense of personal loss for the purity which I was completely realizing for the first time when it was too late; all the intense longing to have the dead past live again, that I might prove myself more worthy of it, assailed me with as mighty a force as ever the human heart could experience and still continue to beat. The piteous fragments of this lost art which remained–a few columns, the remnants of an immortal frieze, the long lines of drapery from which the head and figure were gone, the cold brow of the Hermes, the purity of his profile, the proud curve of his lips, the ineffable wanness of his smile–I could have cast myself at the foot of the Parthenon and wept over the personal disaster which befell me in that hour of realization.

I never again wish to go through such an agony of emotion. The Acropolis made the whole of Europe seem tawdry. I felt ashamed of the gorgeous sights I had seen, of the rich dinners I had eaten, of the luxuries I had enjoyed. I felt as if I would like to have the whole of my past life fall away from me as a cast-off garment, and that if I could only begin over I could do so much better with my life. I could have knelt and beat my hands together in a wild, impotent prayer for the past to be given into my keeping for just one more trial, one more opportunity to live up to the beauty and holiness and purity I had missed. When I looked up and saw the naked columns of the Parthenon silhouetted against the sky, bereft of their capitals, ragged, scarred, battered with the war of wind and weather and countless ages, all about me the ruins seemed to say, “Your appreciation is in vain; it is too late, too late!”

I have an indistinct recollection of stumbling into the carriage, of driving down a steep road, of having the Pentelikon pointed out to me, of knowing that near that mountain lay Marathon, of seeing the statue of “Greece crowning Byron,” but I heard with unhearing ears, I saw with unseeing eyes. I had left my heart and all my senses in the Acropolis. I believe that one who had left her loved one in the churchyard, on the way home for the first time to her empty house, has felt that dazed, unrealizing yet dumb heartache that I felt for days after leaving the Parthenon.

It grew worse the farther I went away from it, and for two months I have longed for Athens, Marathon, Thermopylae, Salamis. I wanted to stand and feast my soul upon the glories which were such living memories, All through Egypt and up the Nile my one wish was to live long enough and for the weeks to fly fast enough for me to get back to Athens. Now I am here for the second time, and for as long as I wish to remain.

We came sailing into the harbor just at sunset. Such a sunset! Such blue in the Mediterranean! Such a soft haze on the purple hills! How the gods must have loved Athens to place her in the garden spot of all the earth; to pour into her lap such treasures of art, and to endow her masters with power to create such an art! The approach is so beautiful. Our big black Russian ship cut her way in utter silence through the bluest of blue seas, with scarcely a ripple on the sunlit waters, between amethyst islands studded with emerald fields, making straight for that which was at one time the bravest, noblest, most courageous, most beautiful country on earth.

“The isles of Greece, the isles of Greece! Where burning Sappho loved and sung,
Where grew the arts of war and peace, Where Delos rose and Phoebus sprung!
Eternal summer gilds them yet,
But all except their sun is set.”

Byron’s statue stands in the square, surrounded by evergreens; his picture is in the Ecole Polytechnique, and his memory and his songs are revered throughout all Greece. How her beauty tore at his soul! How her love for freedom met with an echo in his own heart! No wonder he sang, with such a theme! It was enough to give a stone song and the very rocks utterance.

It was Sunday, and as we drove through the clean, white streets, feeling absolutely hushed with the beauty which assailed us on every side, suddenly we heard the sound of music, mournful as a dirge–a martial dirge. And presently we saw approaching us the saddest, most touching yet awful procession I ever beheld. It was a military funeral. First came the band; then came two men bearing aloft the cover to the casket, wreathed in flowers and streaming with crape. Then, borne in an open coffin by four young officers of his staff, with bands of crape on their arms and knots of crape on their swords, was the dead officer, an old, gray-haired general, dressed in the full uniform of the Greek army, with his browned, wrinkled, deep-lined hands crossed over his sword. The casket was shallow, and thus he was exposed to the view of the gaping multitude, without even a glass lid to cover his bronzed face, and with the glaring sun beating down upon his closed eyes and noble gray head. Just behind him they led his riderless black horse, with his master’s boots reversed in the stirrups and the empty saddle knotted with crape. It was at once majestic, heartrending, and terrible. It unnerved me, and yet it was not surprising to have such a moving spectacle greet me on my return to Greece.

We drove over the same road from the Piraeus to Athens, but in the two months of our absence they had mended a worn place in this road and had unearthed a most beautiful sarcophagus, which they placed in the national museum. The cement which held it on its pedestal was not yet dry when we saw it. They do not know its date, nor the hand of the sculptor who carved it, yet it needs no name to proclaim its beauty.

I have now seen Athens as I wanted to see it. I have seen it consecutively. It was beautiful to begin with the Acropolis and to take all day to examine just the frieze of the Parthenon. We had to have written permission, which we received through the American minister, to allow us to climb up on the scaffolding and get a near view of it. But we did it, and we were close enough to touch it, to lay our hands on it, and we waited hours for the sun to sink low enough to creep between the giant beams and touch the metopes so that we could photograph them. Of course, we could have bought photographs of them, but it seemed more like possessing them to take them with our own little cameras.

The central metope is the most beautiful and in the best state of preservation of all this marvel from the hand of Phidias; yet the work of destruction goes on, as only last year the head of the rider fell and broke into a thousand pieces, so that only the horse, the figure, and the electric splendor of his wind-blown garments floating out behind him remain. There is so little of this frieze left that it requires the full scope of the imagination, as one stands and looks at it, to picture this triumphal procession of Pan-Athenians which every four years formed at the Acropolis and wound majestically down through the Sacred Way to the Temple of Mysteries to sacrifice to the goddess in honor of Marathon and Salamis.

But we followed this road ourselves. We, too, took the Sacred Way. On the loveliest day imaginable we drove along this smooth white road; we saw the Bay of Salamis; we wound around the sweetheart curve of her shore; the purple hills forming the cup which holds her translucent waters are the background to this famous battle-ground; and beyond, set on the brow of one of these hills like a diadem, is all that remains of the Temple of Mysteries. Broken columns are there, pedestals, fragments of proud arches, now shattered and trodden under foot. Its majesty is that of a sleeping goddess, so still, so tranquil, proud even, in its ruins; yet in such utter silence it lies. In the cracks of the marble floors, in the crannies of the walls, springing from beneath the broken statue, voiceless yet persistent, grow scarlet poppies–the sleep flowers of the world, yielding to this yellowing Temple of Mysteries the quieting influence of their presence.

The next day, almost in the spirit of worship, we went to Marathon. If Salamis was my Holy Grail, then Marathon was my Mecca. We started out quite early in the morning, with relays of horses to meet us on the way. It tried to rain once or twice, but it seemed not to have the heart to spoil my crusade, for presently the sun struggled through the ragged clouds and shed a hazy half light through their edges, which completely destroyed the terrible, blinding glare and made the day simply perfect.

The road to Marathon led through orchards of cherry-trees white with blossoms, through green vineyards, past groves of olive-trees which look old enough to have seen the Persian hosts, through groups of cypress-trees, such noble sentinels of deathless evergreen; through fields of wild-cabbage blooms, making the air as sweet as the alfalfa-fields of the West; across the Valanaris by a little bridge, and suddenly an isolated farmhouse with a wine-press, and then–Marathon!

“The mountains look on Marathon,
And Marathon looks on the sea,
And musing there an hour alone,
I dreamed that Greece might still be free; For standing by the Persian’s grave,
I could not deem myself a slave!”

Marathon is only a vast plain, but what a plain! It has only a small mound in the centre to break its smoothness, but what courage, what patriotism, what nobility that mound covers! It was there, many authorities say, that all the Athenians were buried who fell at Marathon, although Byron claims that it covers the Persian dead.

How Greece has always loved freedom! In the Ecole Polytechnique are three Turkish battle-flags and some shells and cannon-balls from a war so recent that the flags have scarcely had time to dry or the shells to cool. What a pity, what an unspeakable pity, that all the glory of Greece lies in the past, and that the time of her power has gone forever! Nothing but her brave, undaunted spirit remains, and never can she live again the glories of her Salamis, her Marathon, her Thermopylae.

We have seen Athens in all her guises, the Acropolis in all her moods, at sunrise, in a thunder-storm, in the glare of mid-day, at sunset, and yet we saved the best for the climax. On the last night we were in Athens we saw the Acropolis by moonlight. We nearly upset the whole Greek government to accomplish this, for the King has issued an edict that only one night in the month may visitors be admitted, and that is the night of the full moon. But I had returned to Athens with this one idea in my mind, and if I had been obliged to go to the King myself I would have done so, and I know that I would have come away victorious. He never could have had the heart to refuse me.

It is impossible. I utterly abandon the idea of making even my nearest and dearest see what I saw and hear what I heard and think what I thought on that matchless night. There was just a breath of wind. The mountains and hills rose all around us, Lykabettos, Kolonos–the home of Sophocles–Hymettos, and Pentelikon with its marble quarries, made an undulating line of gray against the horizon, while away at the left was the Hill of Mars. How still it was! How wonderful! The rows of lights from the city converged towards the foot of the Acropolis like the topaz rays in a queen’s diadem. The blue waters of the harbor glittered in the pale light. A chime of bells rang out the hour, coming faintly up to us like an echo. And above us, bathed, shrouded, swimming in silver light, was the Parthenon. The only flowers that grow at the foot of the Parthenon are the marguerites, the white-petaled, golden-hearted daisies, and even in the moonlight these starry flowers bend their tender gaze upon their god.

I leaned against one of the caryatides of the Erechtheion and looked beyond the Parthenon to the Hill of Mars, where Paul preached to the Athenians, and I believe that he must have seen the Acropolis by moonlight when he wrote, “Wherefore, when we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left in Athens _alone_!”

What a week we have had in Athens! If I were obliged to go home to-morrow, if Greece ended Europe for me, I could go home satisfied, filled too full of bliss to complain or even to tell what I felt. I have lived out the fullest enjoyment of my soul; I have reached the limit of my heart’s desire. Athens is the goddess of my idolatry. I have turned pagan and worshipped.

In all my travels I have divided individual trips into two classes–those which would make ideal wedding journeys and those which would not. But the greatest difficulty I have encountered is how to get my happy wedded pair over here in order to _begin_. I have not the heart to ask them to risk their happiness by crossing the ocean, for the Atlantic, even by the best of ships, is ground for divorce (if you go deep enough) in itself. I have not yet tried the Pacific, but I am told that, like most people who are named Theodosia and Constance and Winifred, the Pacific does not live up to its name. However, if I could transport my people, chloroformed and by rapid transit, to Greece, I would beg of them to journey from Athens to Patras by rail; and if that exquisite experience did not smooth away all trifling difficulties and make each wish to be the one to apologize first, then I would mark them as doomed from the beginning, by their own insensate and unappreciative natures, as destined to finish their honeymoon by separate maintenance and alimony.

How I hate descriptions of scenery! How murderous I feel when the conventional novelist interrupts the most impassioned love-scene to tell how the moonlight filtered through the ragged clouds, or how the wind sighed through the naked branches of the trees, just as if anybody cared what nature was doing when human nature held the stage! And yet so marvellous is the fascination of Greece, so captivating the scenes which meet the eye from the uninviting window of a plain little foreign railroad train, that I cannot forbear to risk similar maledictions by saying that it is too heavenly for common words to express.

Now, I abominate railroads and I loathe ships. The only things I really enjoy are a rocking-chair and a book. But much as I detest the smell of car-smoke, and to find my face spotted with soot, and ill as it makes me to ride backward, I would willingly travel every month of the year over the road from Athens to Patras. The mountains are not so high as to startle, the gulf not so vast as to shock. But with gentleness you are drawn more and more into the net of its fascination until the tears well to your eyes and there is a positive physical ache in your heart.

Greece is considerate. I have seen landscapes so continuously and overpoweringly beautiful that they bored me. I know how to sympatize with Alfred Vargrave when he says to the Duc de Luvois:

“Nature is here too pretentious; her mien Is too haughty. One likes to be coaxed, not compelled, To the notice such beauty resents if withheld. She seems to be saying too plainly, ‘Admire me;’ And I answer, ‘Yes, madam, I do; but you tire me.'”

Not so with Greece, for when you become almost intoxicated with her wonderful blues and greens and purples, and you move your head restlessly and beg a breathing-space, she compassionately recognizes your mood and lowers a silver veil over her brilliant beauty, so that you see her through a gauzy mist, which presently tantalizes you into blinking your tired eyes and wondering what she is so deftly concealing. It is like the feeling which assails you when you see a veiled statue. You long for the sculptor to chisel away the marble gauze and reveal the features. And when the craving becomes intolerable, lo! Greece, the past mistress of the art of beauty, grants your desire, and with the regal gift of a goddess brings your soul into its fruition. Cleopatra would have tantalized and left your heart to eat itself out in hopeless longing. But Cleopatra was only a queen; Venus was a goddess.

Names which were but names to you before become living realities now. We are crossing the Attic plain, and from that we find ourselves in the Thracian plain. What girl has not heard her brother spout concerning these names, famous in Greek history? Then we are in Megara, on the lovely blue Bay of Salamis. From Megara the Bay of Salamis becomes Saronic Gulf, and after an hour or two of its unspeakable beauty we cross over to Corinth and find, if possible, that the blues of the Gulf of Corinth are even more sapphire, that its purples are even more amethyst, that its greens are more emerald than the blues and purples and greens of Salamis.

From Corinth the road skirts the sea, and all these white plains are devoted to the drying of currants. At Sikyon, called “cucumber town,” but originally, with the mystic beauty of the ancient Greeks, called “poppy town,” the American school at Athens has made some wonderful excavations. It has discovered the supports of the stage of the famous theatre there. Then, still with the sea before us, we are at Aegium, a name full of memories of ancient Greece. It has olive, currant, grape, and mulberry plantations, and lies shrouded and bedded in beauty and romance. There, over a high iron bridge, we cross a rushing mountain torrent and are at Patras, in the moonlight, with our big ship waiting to take us across the Adriatic Sea to Brindisi.

It was with real pain that we left Greece. I would like to go back to-morrow. But there were reasons for reaching Italy without further delay, and we hurried through Corfu with only a day there to see its loveliness, instead of a week, as we would have liked. The Empress of Austria’s villa lies tucked up on a hill-side, in a mass of orange, lemon, cypress, and magnolia trees. Such an enchanting picture as it presents, and such wonderful beauty as it encloses. But all that is modern. What fascinates me in Corfu is that opposite the entrance to the old Hyllaean harbor lies the isle of Pontikonisi (Mouse Island), with a small chapel and clergy-house. Tradition says that it is the Phaeacian ship which brought Ulysses to Ithaka, and which was afterwards turned into stone by the angry Poseidon (Neptune). The brook Kressida at the point where it enters the lake is also pointed out as the spot where Ulysses was cast ashore and met the Princess Nausicaa. A seasick sort of name, that!

I feel an inexplicable delight in letting my imagination run riot in the Greek traditions of their gods and goddesses. Their heroes are more real to me than Caesar and Xerxes and Alexander. And Hermes and Venus and the dwellers of Olympus have been such intimate friends since my childhood that the scenes of their exploits are of much more moment to me than Waterloo and Austerlitz. I cannot forbear laughing at myself, however, for my holy rage over Greek mythology, as founded upon no better ground than that upon which Mark Twain apologized for his admiration for Fenimore Cooper’s Indians, for he admitted that they were a defunct race of beings which never had existed!

We arrived at Brindisi at four o’clock in the morning. Brindisi at four o’clock in the morning is not pleasant, nor would any other city be on the face of this green footstool. We were in quarantine, and we had to cope with a cross stewardess, who declared that we demanded too much service, and that she would _not_ bring us our coffee in bed, and who then went and did it like an angel, so that we patted her on the back and told her in French that she was “well amiable,” although at that hour in the morning we would have preferred to throttle her for her impertinence, and then to throw her in the Adriatic Sea as a neat little finish. Such, however, is our diplomatic course of travel.

We walked in line under the doctor’s eye, and he pronounced us sanitary and permitted us to land. We were four hours late, but we scalded ourselves with a second cup of coffee and tried for the six-o’clock train for Naples, missed it, sent a telegram to Cook to send our letters to the train to meet us, and then went back to the ship to endure with patience and commendable fortitude the jeers of our fellow-passengers. Virtue was its own reward, however, for soon, under the rays of the rising sun, which we did not get up to see, and did not want to see, there steamed into the harbor alongside of us the P. & O. ship _Sutly_, six hours ahead of time (did you ever hear of such a thing?), bearing our belated friends, the Jimmies, from Alexandria. They had been booked for the _China_, which was wrecked, so the _Sutly_ took her passengers. The Jimmies had bought their passage for Venice, but we teased them to throw it up and come with us, and such is our fascination that they yielded. The love which reaches the purse is love indeed. So in a fever of joy we all caught the nine-o’clock train for Naples.

They have a sweet little way on Italian railroads of making no provision for you to eat. We did not know this, and our knowledge of Italian was limited to _Quanto tempo?_ (How much time?) and _Quanto costa?_ (How much is it?) So we punctuated the lovely journey among the Italian hills, and between their admirable waterways, by hopping off the train for coffee every time they said “Cinque minuti.” It was like a picnic train. Half the passengers were from the P. & O., and knew the Jimmies, and the other half were from our Austrian Lloyd, and knew us, so it was perfectly delicious to see every compartment door fly open and everybody’s friend appear with tea-kettles for hot water in one hand and tea-caddies in the other, and to see people who hated boiled eggs buying them, because they were about all that looked clean; and to see staid Englishmen in knickerbockers and monocles with loops of Italian bread over each tweed arm, and in both hands flasks of cheap red Italian wine–oh, so good! and only costing fifty centimes, but put up in those lovely straw-woven decanters which cost us a real pang to fling out of the window after they were emptied. And it was anything but conventional to hear one friend shout to another, “Don’t pay a lira for those mandarins; I got twice that many from this pirate!” And then the five minutes would be up, and the guard would come along and call “Pronto,” which is much prettier than “All aboard,” but which means about the same thing; and then two ear-splitting whistles and a jangling of bells, and the doors would slam, and we were off again.

It was moonlight when we skirted the Bay of Naples–the same moonlight which lighted the Acropolis for us at Athens, which shed its silver loveliness upon the Adriatic Sea, where we had no one whose soul shared its beauty with us, and which we found again glittering upon the Bay of Naples. We stood at the car-window and watched it for an hour, for all that time our train was winding its way around the shore into Naples.

That curve of the shore, that sheet of rippling sapphire, the glint of the moon on the water, the train trailing its slow length around the bay, are associated in my mind with one of those emotional upheavals which travellers must often experience in passing from one phase of civilization to another. It marks one of the mile-stones in my inner life. I was leaving the East, the pagan East, with its mysterious influence, and I was getting back to Cooks’ tourists and Italy. My mind was in a whirl. Which was best? Why should I so love one, and why did the other bore me? I was afraid to follow the yearnings of my own soul, and yet I knew that only there lay happiness. To make up one’s mind to be true to one’s love–even if it be only the love of beauty–requires courage. And the trial of my bravery came to me on that curve of the Bay of Naples. I dared. I am daring now. I am still true to the Orient.

As I look back I remember that the phrase, “See Naples and die,” gave me the hazy idea that it must be very beautiful, but just how I did not know, and did not particularly care. I knew the bay would be lovely; I only hoped it would be as lovely as I expected. Celebrated beauties are so apt to be disappointing. I imagined that all Neapolitan boys wore their shirt-collars open and that a wavy lock of coal-black hair was continually blowing across their brown foreheads. That eternal porcelain miniature has maddened me with its omnipresence ever since I was a child. But aside from these half-thoughts and dim expectations I had no hopes at all. I was prepared to be gently and tranquilly pleased; not wildly excited, but satisfied; not happy, but contented with its beauty. But I have found more. The bay is more lovely than I anticipated, and I have discovered that Italian hair is not coal-black; it begins to be black at the roots, and evidently had every intention of being black when it started out, but it grew weary of so much energy, and ended in sundry shades of russet brown and sunburned tans. It generally has these two colors, black and tan, like the silky coat of a fine terrier, and it waves in lovely little tendrils, and is much prettier than hair either all black or all brown.

But I am ahead of my narrative. I am trying to decide whether Naples is more beautifully situated than Constantinople. Constantinople, being Oriental, fascinates me more. Western Europe begins to seem a little tame and conventional to me, because the pagan in my nature is so highly developed. I detest civilization except for my own selfish bodily comfort. When I eat and sleep I want the creature comforts. Otherwise I love those thieving Arab servants in Cairo (who would steal the very shoes off your feet if you dropped off for your forty winks) because of their uncivilization and unconventionality. Civilization has not yet spoiled them. I bought rugs in Cairo, and often when I went unexpectedly into my room I found my Arab man-servant on his knees studying their patterns and feeling their silkiness. I had everything locked up, or perhaps he would have made worse use of his time; but somehow the childishness of the East appeals to me.

Constantinople is so delightfully dirty and old. Mrs. Jimmie sniffs at me because I can stop the peasants who lead their cows through the streets of Naples, and because I can drink a glass of warm milk; Mrs. Jimmie wants hers strained. But if I can eat “Turkish Delight” in Constantinople, buying it in the bazaars, seeing it cut off the huge sticky mass with rusty lamp-scissors, perhaps dropped on the dirt-floor, and in a moment of abstraction polished off on the Turk’s trousers and rolled in soft sugar to wrap the real in the ideal–if I can cope with _that_ problem, surely a trifle like drinking unstrained milk, with the consoling satisfaction of stopping the carriage in an adorable spot, with the blue waters of the bay curling up on its shore down below on the right, and a sheer cliff covered with moss and clinging vines and surmounted by a superb villa on the left, is nothing. For to eat or to drink amid such romantic surroundings, even if it were unstrained milk, was an experience not to be despised.

Yet here are two cities situated like amphitheatres upon the convex curve of two ideally beautiful harbors. How do you compare them? Each according to your own temper and humor. You have seen hundreds of colored photographs both of Naples and Constantinople. But of the two you will find only Naples exactly like the pictures. Everybody agrees about Naples. People disagree delightfully about Constantinople. Some can never get beyond the dirt and smells and thievery. Some never get used to the delicious thrills of surprise which every turn and every corner and every vista and every night and every morning hold for the beauty-lover. Nothing could be more heterodox, more _bizarre_, more unconventional than Constantinople scenes. Nothing could be more orthodox than the views of Naples. To be sure, poets have written reams of poetry about it, travellers have sent home pages of rhapsodies about it, tourists have conscientiously “done” the town, with their heads cocked on one side and their forefingers on a paragraph in Baedeker; but just _because_ of this, _because_ everybody on earth who ever has been to Naples–man or woman, Jew or Gentile, black or white, bond or free–_has_ wept and gurgled and had hysteria over its mild and placid beauty, is one reason why I find it somewhat tame. Italian scenery seems to me laid out by a landscape-gardener. Its beauty is absolutely conventional. Nobody will blame you if you admire it. To rave over it is like going to church–it is the proper thing to do. People will raise their eyebrows if you don’t, and watch what you eat, and speculate on your ancestry, and wonder about your politics.

The beauty of Italy is so proper and Church of England that you are looked upon as a dissenter if you do not rhapsodize about it. But it disappoints me to feel obliged to follow the multitude like a flock of sheep and to take the dust of those feeble-minded tourists who have preceded me and set the pace. There is nothing in the scenery of all Italy to shock your love of beauty from the staid to the original. There is nothing to give your sensitive soul little shivers of surprise. There is nothing to make you hesitate for fear you ought not to admire; you _know_ you ought. You feel obliged to do so because everybody has done it before you, and you will be thought queer if you don’t. There is a gentle, pretty-pretty haze of romance over Italian scenery which is like reading fairy-tales after having devoured Carlyle. It is like hearing Verdi after Wagner. The East has my real love. I find that I cannot rave over a pink and white china shepherdess when I have worshipped the Venus of Milo.

XIII

NAPLES

The point of view is always the pivot of recollection. How ought one to remember a place? There are a dozen ways of enjoying Naples, and twenty ways of being miserable in America. Or turn it the other way, it makes no difference. It depends upon one’s self and the state of the spleen. Before I came to Europe I remember often to have been disgusted with persons who recalled Germany by its beer and Spain by its fleas, or those who said: “Cologne! Oh yes; I remember we got such a good breakfast there.”

Ah, ha! It is so easy to sniff when one is mooning in imagination over cathedrals, but I have since taken back all those sniffs. I did not realize then the misery of standing on one foot all the morning in tombs, and on the other all the afternoon in museums, and then of going home to sleep on an ironing-board. Now I, too, think gratefully of the Bay of Naples as being near that good bed, and of the Pyramids as being near the excellent table of Shepheard’s. Why not? Can one rave over Vesuvius on an empty stomach, or get all the beauty out of Sorrento with a backache? One must be well and have good spirits when one travels. It is not so essential merely to be comfortable, although that helps wonderfully. But even to get soaking wet could not utterly spoil the road to Posilipo. What a heavenly drive! Although I think with more fondness of scaling the heights of Capri in a trembling little Italian cab, not because both views were not divinely beautiful, but because when in Capri my clothes were not damply sticking to me, and I had no puddle of water in each shoe. As I look back I believe I could write specific directions from personal experience on “How to be Happy when Miserable.” Jimmie always bewails the fact that the American girl lives on her nerves. “Goes on her uppers” is his choice phrase. Nevertheless, it pulled us through many a mental bog while travelling so continuously.

Therefore, from a dozen different recollections of Naples, eleven of which you may read in your red-covered Baedeker, or _Recollections of Italy_, or _Leaves from my Note-Book_, or _Memories of Blissful Hours_, and similar productions, I have most poignantly to remember our shopping experiences in Naples. But before launching my battleship I owe an apology to the worshippers of Italy. I can appreciate their rapturous memories. I share in a measure their enthusiasm. To a certain temper Italy would be adorable for a honeymoon or to return to a second or a fifth time. But it is not in human nature, after having come from Russia, Egypt, and Greece, to have one’s pristine enthusiasm to pour out in torrents over the ladylike beauty of Italy, because these other countries are so much more unfrequented, more pagan, and more fascinating. But in daring to say that, I again pull my forelock to Italy’s worshippers.

To begin with, we were robbed all through Italy; not robbed in a common way, but, to the honor of the Italians let me say, robbed in a highly interesting and somewhat exciting manner.

Somebody has said, “What a beautiful country Italy would be if it were not for the Italians!” We are used to having our things stolen, and to being overcharged for everything just because we are Americans, but we are not used to the utter brigandage of Italy. On the Russian ship coming from Odessa to Constantinople some of the second-cabin passengers got into our state-rooms during dinner and went through our hand-baggage, which we had left unlocked, and stole my ulster. And, of course, in Constantinople they warned us not to trust the Greeks, for it is their form of comparison to say, “He lies like a Greek,” while in Greece the worst thing they can say is that “He steals like a Turk.” In Cairo it was not necessary to warn us, for everybody knows what liars and thieves Arabs are. Not a day went by on those donkey excursions on the Nile that the men did not have their pockets picked. The passengers on the _Mayflower_ lost enough silk handkerchiefs to start a haberdasher’s shop, and every woman lost money. In Cairo, whether you go to the bazaars or to a mosque to see the faithful at their prayers, your dragoman tells you not to have anything of value in your pockets, and not to carry your purse in your hand.

But we had not even got through the custom-house at Brindisi, when Gaze’s man recommended us to have our trunks corded and sealed, for they are sometimes broken open on the train. We thought this rather a useless precaution, but Jimmie has travelled so much that he made us do it. It seems that the King has admitted that he is powerless to stop these outrages, and so he begs foreign travellers to protect themselves, inasmuch as he is unable to protect them.

We stayed at the smartest hotel in Naples, but we had not been there two days before Jimmie’s valises were broken open, and all his studs and forty pounds in money were stolen. That frightened us almost to death, but something worse happened. One day at three o’clock in the afternoon my companion was sitting in her room writing a letter, and she happened to look up just in time to see the handle of the door turn slowly and softly.

Then the door opened a crack, still without a sound, and a man with a black beard put in his head. As he met her eyes fixed squarely upon him he closed the door as silently as a shadow. She hurried after him and looked out, and ran up the corridor peering into every possible corner, but no man could she see. He had disappeared as completely as if he had been a ghost. She reported it to the proprietor, but he shrugged his shoulders, and said, “Madam must have imagined it!”

By this time we were all feeling rather creepy. However, as Jimmie says when we are all tired out and hungry and cross, “Cheer up. The worst is yet to come.”

One day my companion and Mrs. Jimmie and I went to one of the best shops in all Italy, to buy a ring. Mrs. Jimmie was getting it for her husband’s birthday.

Now, Mrs. Jimmie’s own rings are extremely beautiful, and her very handsomest consists of a band of blue-white matched diamonds which exactly fills the space between her two fingers, and is so heavy and so fine that only Tiffany could duplicate it. The band of the ring is merely a fine wire. To try on Jimmie’s ring, Mrs. Jimmie took off all hers and laid them on the counter. Now, mind you, this was a famous jeweller’s where this happened. But when she had decided to take the new ring, and turned to put on her own again, lo! this especial ring was gone. We searched everywhere. We told the clerk, but he said she had not worn such a ring. This was the first thing which made us suspect that something was wrong. We insisted, and he reiterated. Finally, I made up my mind. I said to my companion: “You stand at the front door and have Mrs. Jimmie stand at the side door. Don’t you permit any one either to enter or leave, while I rush around to Cook’s office and find out what can be done.” Both women turned pale, but obeyed me. One clerk started for the back door, but we called him and told him that no one was to move until we could get the police there. Then such a scurrying and _such_ a begging as there was! Would madam wait just one moment? Would madam permit them to call the proprietor? (Anybody would have thought it was _my_ ring, for Mrs. Jimmie’s calm was not even ruffled, while _I_ was in a white heat, and all their impassioned appeals were addressed to me!) I said they could call the proprietor if they could call him without leaving the room. They called him in Italian. He came, a little, smooth, brown man, with black, shoe-button eyes. We explained to him just what had taken place, Mrs. Jimmie with her back against one door, and my companion braced against the side door, like Ajax defying the lightning.

He rubbed his hands, and listened to a torrent of excited Italian from no fewer than ten crazy clerks. Then I stated the case in English. The proprietor turned to Mrs. Jimmie, and said if madam was so sure that she had worn a ring, which all his clerks assured him she had not worn, then, for the honor of his house, he must beg madam to choose another ring, of whatever value she liked, and it should be a present from him!

Now, Mrs. Jimmie is a very Madonna of calmness, but at that she ignited. She told him that Tiffany had been six months matching those stones, and that not in all his shop–not in the whole of Italy–could he find a duplicate. At that another search took place, and I, just to make things pleasant, started for the American ambassador’s. (I had risen a peg from Cook’s!) Such pleading! Such begging! Two of the clerks actually wept–Italian tears. When lo! a shout of triumph, and from a remote corner of the shop, quite forty feet from us, in a place where we had not been, under a big vase, they found that ring! If it had had the wings of a swallow it could not have flown there. If it had had the legs of a centipede it could not have crawled there. The proprietor was radiant in his unctuous satisfaction. “It had rolled there!” Rolled! That ring! It had no more chance of rolling than a loaded die! We all sniffed, and sniffed publicly. Mrs. Jimmie, I regret to say, was weak enough to buy the ring she had ordered for Jimmie in spite of this occurrence. But I think I don’t blame her. I am weak myself about buying things. But _that_ is a sample of Italian honesty, and in a shop which would rank with our very best in New York or Chicago. Heaven help Italy!

Italian politeness is very cheap, very thin-skinned, and, like the French, only for the surface. They pretend to trust you with their whole shop; they shower you with polite attentions; you are the Great and Only while you are buying. But I am of the opinion that you are shadowed by a whole army of spies if you owe a cent, and that for lack of plenty of suspicion and prompt action to recover I am sure that neither the Italians nor the French ever lost a sou.

We went into the best tortoise-shell shop in all Naples to buy one dozen shell hair-pins, but such was the misery we experienced at leaving any of the treasures we encountered that we bought three hundred dollars’ worth before we left, and of course did not have enough money to pay for them. So we said to lay the things aside for us, and we would draw some money at our banker’s, and pay for them when we came to fetch them.

Not for the world, declared this Judas Iscariot, this Benedict Arnold of an Italian Jew! We must take the things with us. Were we not Americans, and by Americans did he not live? Behold, he would take the articles with his own hands to our carriage. And he did, despite our protests. But the villain drew on us through our banker before we were out of bed the next morning! I felt like a horse-thief.

However, I confess to a weakness for the overwhelmingly polite attentions one receives from Italian and French shopkeepers. One gets none of it in Germany, and in America I am always under the deepest obligations if the haughty “sales-ladies” and “sales-gentlemen” will wait on the men and women who wish to buy. I am accustomed to the ignominy of being ignored, and to the insult of impudence if I protest; but why, oh, why, do politeness and honesty so seldom go together?

There is a decency about Puritan America which appeals to me quite as much as the rugged honesty of American shopkeepers. The unspeakable street scenes of Europe would be impossible in America. In Naples all the mysteries of the toilet are in certain quarters of the city public property, and the dressing-room of children in particular is bounded by north, east, south, and west, and roofed by the sky.

I have seen Italians comb their beards over their soup at dinner. I have seen every Frenchman his own manicure at the opera. I have seen Germans take out their false teeth at the _table d’hote_ and rinse them in a glass of water, but it remains for Naples to cap the climax for Sunday-afternoon diversions.

A curious thing about European decency is that it seems to be forced on people by law, and indulged in only for show. The Gallic nations are only veneered with decency. They have, almost to a man, none of it naturally, or for its own sake. Take, for example, the sidewalks of Paris after dark. The moment public surveillance wanes or the sun goes down the Frenchman becomes his own natural self.

The Neapolitan’s acceptation of dirt as a portion of his inheritance is irresistibly comic to a pagan outsider. To drive down the Via di Porto is to see a mimic world. All the shops empty themselves into the street. They leave only room for your cab to drive through the maze of stalls, booths, chairs, beds, and benches. At nightfall they light flaring torches, which, viewed from the top of the street, make the descent look like a witch scene from an opera.

It is the street of the very poor, but one is struck by the excellent diet of these same very poor. They eat as a staple roasted artichokes–a great delicacy with us. They cook macaroni with tomatoes in huge iron kettles over charcoal fires, and sell it by the plateful to their customers, often hauling it out of the kettles with their hands, like a sailor’s hornpipe, pinching off the macaroni if it lengthens too much, and blowing on their fingers to cool them. They have roasted chestnuts, fried fish, boiled eggs, and long loops of crisp Italian bread strung on a stake. There are scores of these booths in this street, the selling conducted generally by the father and grown sons, while the wife sits by knitting in the smoke and glare of the torches, screaming in peasant Italian to her neighbor across the way, commenting quite openly upon the people in the cabs, and wondering how much their hats cost. The bambinos are often hung upon pegs in the front of the house, where they look out of their little black, beady eyes like pappooses. I unhooked one of these babies once, and held it awhile. Its back and little feet were held tightly against a strip of board so that it was quite stiff from its feet to its shoulders. It did not seem to object or to be at all uncomfortable, and as it only howled while I was holding it I have an idea that, except when invaded by foreigners, the bambino’s existence is quite happy. Babies seem to be no trouble in Italy, and one cannot but be struck by the number of them. One can hardly remember seeing many French babies, for the reason that there are so few to remember–so few, indeed, that the French government has put a premium upon them; but in Naples the pretty mothers with their pretty babies, playing at bo-peep with each other like charming children, are some of the most delightful scenes in this fascinating Street of the Door.

These bambinos hooked against the wall look down upon curious scenes. Their mothers bring their wash-tubs into the street, wash the clothes in plain view of everybody, hang them on clothes-lines strung between two chairs, while a diminutive charcoal-stove, with half a dozen irons leaning against its sides, stands in the doorway ready to perform its part in the little scene. I saw a boy cooking two tiny smelts over a tailor’s goose. The handle was taken off, and the fish were frying so merrily over the glowing coals, and they looked so good, and the odor which steamed from them was so ravishing, that I wanted to ask him if I might not join him and help him cook two more.

In point of fact, Naples seems like a holiday town, with everybody merely playing at work, or resting from even that pretence. The Neapolitans are so essentially an out-of-door people and a leisurely people that it seems a crime to hurry. The very goats wandering aimlessly through the streets, nibbling around open doorways, add an element of imbecile helplessness to a childish people.

Did you ever examine a goat’s expression of face? For utter asininity a donkey cannot approach him. Nothing can, except, perhaps, an Irish farce-comedian.

Beautiful cows are driven through the streets, often attended by the owner’s family. The mother milks for the passing customers, the father fetches it all lovely and foaming and warm to your cab, and the pretty, big-eyed children caper around you, begging for a “macaroni” instead of a “pourboire.”

Then, instead of dining at your smart hotel, it is so much more adorable to drop in at some charming restaurant with tables set in the open air, and to hear the band play, and to eat all sorts of delicious unknowable dishes, and to drink a beautiful golden wine called “Lachrima Christi” (the tears of Christ), and to watch the people–the people–the people!

XIV

ROME

On Easter Sunday I had my first view of Rome, my first view of St. Peter’s. The day was as soft and mild as one of our own spring days, and there was even that little sharp tang in the air which one feels in the early spring in America. The wind was sweet and balmy, yet now and then it had a sharp edge to it as it cut around a curve, as if to remind one that the frost was not yet all out of the ground, and that the sun was still only the heir-apparent to the throne and had not yet been crowned king. It was the sort of day that one has at home a little later, when one still likes the feel of the fur around the neck, while the trees are still bare, when the eager spring wind brings a tingle to the blood and the smell of rich, black earth and early green springing things to the nostrils; when the eye is ravished with the sight of purple hyacinths thrusting their royal chalices up through the reluctant soil; when the sun-colored jonquil and the star-eyed narcissus lift their scented heads above the sombre ground, as if unconscious of the patches of snow here and there, forming one of the contradictions of life, but a contradiction always welcome, because it is in itself a promise of better things to come.

Not in the full fruition of a rose-laden June or in the golden days of Indian summer or the ruddy autumn or the white holiness of Christmas-tide–not in the beauties of the whole year is there anything so exhilarating, so thrilling, so intoxicating as these first days of spring, which always come with a delicious shock of surprise, before one suspects their approach or has time to grow weary with waiting. Nothing, nothing in the world smells like a spring wind! It is full of youth and promise and inspiration. One forgets all the falseness of its promises last year, all the disappointment of the past summer, and, charged with its bewildering electricity, one builds a thousand air-castles as to what _this_ year will bring forth, based on no surer a foundation than the smell of melting snow and fresh black earth and yellow and purple spring flowers which are blown across one’s ever-hopeful soul by a breath of eager, tingling spring wind.

I shall never forget that first drive in Rome on such a day as this, which brought my own beloved country so forcibly to my mind. There were rumors of war in the air, and my heart was heavy for my country, but I forgot all my forebodings as we drew up before the majestic steps of St. Peter’s, for I felt that something would happen to avert disaster from our shores and keep my country safe and victorious.

St. Peter’s had a curious effect upon me. It was too big and too secular and too boastful for a church, too poor in art treasures for a successful museum, the music too inadequate to suit me with the echoes of the Tzar’s choir still ringing in my ears, and the lack of pomp compared to the Greek churches left me with a longing to hunt up more gold lace and purple velvet. There was nothing like the devoutness of the Russians in the worshippers I saw in Rome. I stood a long time by the statue of the Pope. His toe was nearly kissed off, but every one carefully wiped off the last kiss before placing his or her own, thereby convincing me of the universal belief in the microbe theory. The whole attitude of the Roman mind is different. Here it is a religious duty. In Russia it is a sacrament.

There were thousands of people in St. Peter’s, many of whom–the best-dressed and the worst-behaved–were Americans. It seemed very homelike and intimate to hear my own language spoken again, even if it were sometimes sadly mutilated. But I remember St. Peter’s that Easter Sunday chiefly because I had with me a sympathetic companion; one who knew that St. Peter’s was not a place to talk; one who knew enough to absorb in silence; one, in fact, who understood! Such comprehensive silence was to my ragged spirit balm and healing.

Beware, oh, beware with whom you travel! One uncongenial person in the party–one man who sneers at sentiment, one woman whose point of view is material–can ruin the loveliest journey and dampen one’s heavenliest enthusiasm.

In order to travel properly, one ought to be in vein. It is as bad to begin a journey with a companion who gets on one’s nerves as it is to sit down to a banquet and quarrel through the courses. The effect is the same. One can digest neither. People seem to select travelling companions as recklessly as they marry. They generally manage to start with the wrong one. I often shudder to hear two women at a luncheon say, “Why not arrange to go to Europe together next year?” And yet I solace myself with the thought, “Why not? If you considered! your list of friends for a month, and selected the most desirable, you would probably make even a worse mistake, for travelling develops hatred more than any other one thing I know of; so, in addition to spoiling your journey, you would also lose your friend–or wish you _could_ lose her!”

George Eliot has said that there was no greater strain on friendship than a dissimilarity of taste in jests. But I am inclined to believe George Eliot never travelled extensively, else, without disturbing that statement, she would have added, “or a dissimilarity in point of view with one’s travelling companion.”

It makes no difference which one’s view is the loftier. It is the dissimilarity which rasps and grates. Doubtless the material is as much irritated by the spiritual as the poetic is fretted by the prosaic. It is worse than to be at a Wagner matinee with a woman who cares only for Verdi. One wishes to nudge her arm and feel a sympathetic pressure which means, “Yes, yes, so do I!” It is awful not to be able to nudge! Speech is seldom imperative, but understanding signals is as necessary to one’s soul-happiness as air to the lungs. So Greece with one who has but a Baedeker knowledge of art, or Rome to one who remembers her history vaguely as something that she “took” at school, is simply maddening to one who forgets the technicalities of dates and formulas, and rapturously breathes it in, scarcely knowing whence came the love or knowledge of it, but realizing that one has at last come into one’s kingdom.

I was singularly fortunate from time to time in discovering these kindred, sympathetic spirits. I met one party of three in Egypt, and found them again in Greece, and crossed to Italy with them. It was a mother and son and a lovely girl. They will never know, unless they happen across this page, how much they were to me on the Adriatic, and what a void they filled in Athens.

I found another such at Capri and Pompeii, and those beautiful days stand out in my mind more for the company I was in than even the wonders we went to see. That statement is strong but true. Yet my various other fellow-travellers who were lacking in the one essential of soul would never believe it, inasmuch as a person without a soul cannot miss what she never had, and will not believe what she cannot comprehend. I met one ill-assorted couple of that kind once. They were two young women–sisters. One had imagination, soul, fire, poetry, and all that goes to make up genius; but lacking as she did executive ability and perseverance, her genius was inarticulate. The impersonal world would never know her beauties, but her friends were rich in her acquaintance. Her sister was a walking Baedeker–red cover, gold letters, and all. She was “doing Europe.” She read her guide-book, she saw nothing beyond, and the only time that she really blossomed was when dressing for _table d’hote_ dinners. I found them at the Grand Hotel at Rome–one of the most beautiful and well-kept hotels, and one admirably adapted to display the tourist who tours on principle.

This gorgeous hotel on Easter week is a sight for gods and men. We engaged our rooms here while we were on the Nile, two months before, and reminded them once a week all during that time that we were coming; otherwise, on account of its extreme popularity in the fashionable world, they might not have been able to hold them for us. We reached there late on the Saturday evening before Easter, and dined in our own apartments. But the next day, and indeed until war broke out and we fled from Rome, the Grand Hotel was as delightful as it was possible to make a gorgeous, luxurious, and fashionable hotel. The palm-room, where the band plays for afternoon tea, and where one always comes for one’s coffee, is between the entrance and the grand dining-room, so that on entering the hotel one comes upon a most beautiful vista of a series of huge glass doors and lovely green waving palms, with nothing but a glass roof between one and the blue Italian sky.

Most of the smart Americans go there, and a very beautiful front they presented. I had not seen any American clothes for a year, but on Easter Sunday at luncheon I saw the most bewitching array of smart street-gowns worn by the inimitable American woman, who is as far beyond the women of every other race on earth in her selection of clothes and the way she holds up her head and her shoulders back and walks off in them as grand opera is above a hand-organ. Even the French woman does not combine the good sense with good taste as the American does. And there I found these sisters, each lovely in her own way–the pretty one listening to the raptures of the poetic one with a palpable sneer which said plainly: “I not only have no part in these vain imaginings, but I do not think that you yourself believe them. You are posing for the world, and I am the only one who knows it. Have I not been with you everywhere, and have I, with my two eyes, which certainly are as good as yours–have I seen these things you describe?” It was pathetic, for the muse of the poet soon felt the mire in which it daily trod. The fire faded from the girl’s eye, her radiance disappeared, her noble enthusiasms paled, her fantastic and brilliant imagination dulled, and soon she sat listlessly in our midst, a tired, patient smile upon her delicate face, while her sister discoursed volubly upon clothes. Alas, the old fable of the iron pot and the porcelain kettle drifting down the stream together! At the end of the journey the iron pot had not even a scratch upon its thick sides, but the porcelain was broken to pieces. How I longed to take that wounded imagination, that whimsical wit, under my wing and explore Rome with her! But circumstances held the two together, and I took instead my guide, Seraphino Malespina. Seraphino deserves a chapter by himself. His observations upon human nature were of much more value to me than his knowledge of Rome, accurate and worthy as that was. He was the best guide I ever had. I had heard of him, so when we arrived I simply wrote to him and engaged him by the week. He took us everywhere, never wasted our money (which is a wonder in a guide), and, while I may forget some of his dates and statistics, I shall never forget his shrewdness in understanding human nature. His disquisitions on the ordinary tourist, and his acute analysis of the two sisters I have described, were so accurate that I determined then and there that Seraphino was a philosopher. The interest I took in his narratives pleased him to such an extent that he was unwearied in searching out interesting material. I taught him to use the camera, and he photographed us in the Colosseum and in front of the Arch of Constantine.

He persuaded me to coax the poet away from her sister one day and to take her with me instead of my companion. I did so, and to this day I thank my guide for his wisdom, for once out from under the sister’s depressing influence, that whimsical genius, worthy of being classed with the most famous of wits, blossomed under my appreciative laughter like a rose in the sunlight.

We saw, too, the magnificent statue of Garibaldi–a superb thing, which overlooks the whole city of Rome. We tossed pennies into the fountain of the Trevi, and drank some of the water, which is a sure sign, if you wish it at the time you drink, that you will return to Rome.

It was on the day that we went to Tivoli that I heard the first war news from America which I regarded final. We were on the Nile when the _Maine_ was blown up, and all through Egypt and Greece news was slow to travel. When we got to Italy we were dependent upon London for despatches. I waited until I received my own papers before I knew the truth. Finally, on our departure for Tivoli, my American mail was handed to me, and I found what preparations were being made–that my brother was going! I remember Tivoli as in a haze of war-clouds. America arming herself for war once more! Some of my family–my very own–preparing to go! How much do you think I cared for the Emperor Hadrian and his villa, which was a whole town in itself, and his waterfalls and his wonderful objects of art?

At any other time how I would have revelled in the idea of his two theatres, his schools, his libraries, his statues pillaged from my beautiful Greece, his philosopher’s wall–a huge wall built only for shade, so that his friends who came to discourse philosophy with him could walk in its west shadow mornings, and in its east shadow afternoons; all these things would have driven me wild with enthusiasm. But on that day I saw instead the Flying Squadron in Hampton Roads, painted black. I saw the President and his secretaries, with anxious faces, consulting with their generals; I saw how awful must be the sacrifice to the country in every way–money, commerce, health, the very lives of the dear soldiers of _our_ army, who fight from choice, and not because law compels their enlistment. My companion ridiculed my anxiety and rallied me on my inattention to Hadrian. Hadrian! What was Hadrian to me when I thought of the volunteers in America?

Not two days later war was formally declared, and although Rome was yet practically unexplored, although we had been there only three weeks, we rushed post-haste to Paris, spent one day gathering up our trunks from Munroe’s, and left that same night for London.

Once in London, however, we found ourselves blocked. The American Line steamships had been requisitioned by the government, and were no longer at our disposal. With changed names they were turned into war vessels, and few, indeed, were the women who would go aboard them in the near future. The North German Lloyd promised us the new _Kaiser Friedrich_, and every place was taken. We went to the Cecil Hotel and waited. Day after day passed, and the sailing-day was postponed once, then twice. I was frantic with impatience. The truth was the _Kaiser Friedrich_ was not quite finished. Evidently it is the same with a ship as with dress-makers. They promise to finish your gown and send it home for Thanksgiving, whereas you are in luck if you get it by Christmas.

The only thing that consoled me was being at the Cecil. To be sure, it was filled with Americans, but I was not avoiding them then. I had finished my journeyings. I had got my point of view. I was going HOME!

How I wished for poor Bee! What an awful time she had with me at “The Insular”! (which, of course, is not its real name; but I dare not tell it, because it is so smart, and I would shock its worshippers). How she hated our lodgings! Now she will not believe me when I tell her that the Cecil is as good as an American hotel; that its elevators (lifts) really move; that its cuisine is as delicious as Paris; that its service is excellent. Bee is polite but incredulous. To be sure, I tell her that the hotel is as ugly as _only_ an English architect could make it; that the blue tiles in the dining-room would make of it a fine natatorium, if they would only shut the doors and turn in the water–nothing convinces her that English hotels are not jellied nightmares. But as for me, I recall the Cecil with feelings of the liveliest appreciation. I was comfortable there, for the first time in England. If it had not been for the war I would have been happy.

The hotels in London which the English consider the best I consider the worst. If an American wishes to be comfortable let him eschew all other gods and cleave to the Cecil. The Cecil! I wish my cab was turning in at the entrance this very minute!

Finally the _Kaiser Friedrich_ burst something important in her interior, and they gave her up and put on the _Trave_. Instantly there was a maddened rush for the Liverpool steamer. The Cunard office was besieged. Within two hours after the North German Lloyd bulletined the _Trave_ every berth was taken on the _Etruria_. I arrived too late, so, in company with the most of the _Kaiser Friedrich’s_ passengers, I resigned myself to the _Trave_.

We were eight days at sea, and some of those I remained in my berth. I was happier there, and yet in spite of private woes I still think of that delightful captain and that darling stewardess with affection. The steamship company literally outdid themselves in their efforts to console their disappointed passengers. They put the town of Southampton at our disposal, and the _Trave’s_ steady and spinster-like behavior did the rest.

I held receptions in my state-room every day. The captain called every morning, and so did the charming wife of the returning German Ambassador, Mr. Uhl. The girls came down and sat on my steamer-trunk, and told me of the flirtations going on on deck. And every night that dear stewardess would come and tuck me in, and turn out the light, and say, “Good-night, fraeulein; I hope you feel to-morrow better.”

When the pilot reached us we were at luncheon, and every man in the dining-room bolted. American newspapers after eight days of suspense! One man stood up and read the news aloud. Dewey and the battle of Manila Bay! We did not applaud. It was too far off and too unreal. But we women wept.

As we drove through the streets of New York I said to the people who came to meet me, “For Heaven’s sake, what are all these flags out for? Is it Washington’s birthday? I have lost count of time!”

My cousin looked at me pityingly.

“My poor child,” she said, “I am glad you have come back to God’s country, where you can learn something. We have a war on!”

I gave a gasp. That shows how unreal the war seemed to me over there. I never saw so many flags as I saw in Jersey City and New York. I was horrified to find Chicago, nay, even my own house, lacking in that respect.

But I am proud to relate that two hours after my return–directly I had done kissing Billy, in fact–the largest flag on the whole street was floating from my study window.

THE END