Mr. Fairfield was not at all displeased to learn that the two girls
had gone to the Royal Palace with the Italian men, for he trusted to
Carlo’s notions of propriety, and was quite willing to abide by his
decisions. But Snippy was less agreeable about it, and declared that
hereafter she should go with Miss Flo wherever she went, headache or no
“Now don’t be stuffy, Snip,” said Flo, in reply. “In the first place I
don’t care tuppence for those two native gallants, for I can’t talk to
them, and when I do, they misunderstand me.”
But the two young Italians seemed much attracted by the whole Fairfield
party, and nearly every day after that they dropped in to tea, or
invited them to go on little excursions, or brought small gifts to Nan
and the girls.
By degrees, too, Patty and Flo picked up a few Italian phrases, and
after a time were able to make some slight attempts at conversation,
which greatly delighted the two men.
So really they added not a little to the pleasures of the Fairfields’
stay in Florence, and when the time came for them to leave the Italian
gentlemen were quite inconsolable.
As a parting favour they begged that the whole Fairfield party would
lunch with them on their last day in Florence. This invitation was
accepted, and a delightful excursion was arranged to the Cascine. Mr.
Fairfield stipulated for an early luncheon, as their train left for
Venice at four, and he did not wish to be hurried at the last moment.
“I hate to take an afternoon train, anyway,” he said to Nan. “I like to
start in the morning, and reach our destination in the afternoon. But
leaving Florence at four, we won’t reach Venice until ten or after.”
“Well, it doesn’t really matter,” said Nan, “and the girls are so
anxious to go to this fête of Signor Grimaldi’s.”
The proprietor of the hotel also reassured Mr. Fairfield.
“You are going to the Royal Danieli Hotel, in Venice,” he said, “and
have your rooms engaged. Well, they will meet you on your arrival,
not only with gondolas, but with motorboats and steam launches, and I
assure you, you will have not the least care or responsibility. Also,
the whole place will be as bright as day.”
So it was arranged, and the day before the party Flo and Patty packed
their trunks and had everything in readiness. Also, on the day before
the party, Nan received a telegram from a friend of hers, who was
passing through Venice, and who urged her to come on that day, in order
that they might meet.
Nan was greatly disappointed not to see her friend, but she positively
refused to let them all leave a day earlier, and thus deprive Flo and
Patty of their anticipated pleasure.
Patty insisted that they should do this, but Nan wouldn’t agree, and at
last Patty said:
“Well, I’ve an idea. You and father go on to Venice to-day, by the noon
train. Then we’ll stay here for the party to-morrow, and Snippy can
take us to Venice quite well afterward.”
This sounded plausible, but Mr. Fairfield said: “Here’s a better plan
still. Let Snippy and Nan go to Venice to-day, thus travelling by
daylight, and I’ll stay here with you two girls, and take you to Venice
after your luncheon party to-morrow. If any of us are to travel after
dark in an unknown country, I prefer to look after the trip.”
This was more sensible, as Snippy and Nan could easily catch the noon
train that day, and so give Nan an opportunity to see her friend.
Hotel arrangements were made by telegraph, and Mr. Fairfield put the
two ladies on the train, knowing his wife had a safe and pleasant
escort in the grim but capable Englishwoman.
“We ought to do something extra gay to-night, Daddy,” said Patty, “to
console you for Nan’s absence. It was awfully good of her to arrange it
all this way, rather than disappoint Flo and me.”
“Yes, I think it was,” agreed Mr. Fairfield, “and I shall expect you to
entertain me hilariously.”
“I think,” said Patty, “the most fun would be just to go for a drive,
and shop somewhere and eat ices off those funny little tables that
stand out on the sidewalk.”
“That is indeed a daring proposition,” said her father, smiling, “but
I’ll take you. Get your hats and wraps.”
Flo and Patty were soon ready, and away they went for a drive round
Florence by night.
“It isn’t as brilliant as Broadway,” said Patty, looking about at the
fairly-well lighted streets.
“It’s lighter than London at night, though,” said Flo.
“Yes, or London by day, either,” said Patty, who knew Flo never
resented good-natured chaff.
Then to Patty’s delight they stopped at a sidewalk café, and ate ices
and little cakes, while they enjoyed the novel scenes all about.
Often whole families would be gathered round the tables, and little
children would sit contentedly nibbling at buns or pastry.
“It’s lovely,” said Patty, with a little sigh, as she finished her ice;
“I wouldn’t live here for anything, but I do enjoy seeing it all.”
“So do I,” said Flo. “But I’m ’most sure I’ll like Venice better than
Florence. Shan’t you, Patty?”
“Yes, I expect so. I like Rome better, too; but still, Florence is a
lovely city. You ought to love it best, Flo, as it’s named after you.”
“Oh, it’s pretty enough, but I’ve always been just crazy to see Venice.”
The girls chatted away, and Mr. Fairfield smoked a cigar, and then said
they must go back to the hotel and to bed, as they had a busy day
ahead of them, with their party first, and the journey to Venice after.
“And I thank you, gracious ladies,” he added, “for giving me a most
“Glad you enjoyed it,” said Patty; “I’ve had lots of fun, watching the
people and noticing their funny ways.”
On the way home they stopped at one or two shops that were still open,
and bought a few more of the delightful bits of bric-à-brac in which
“I’m simply overburdened now, with little boxes, and carved things, and
mosaics, and plaster casts, but I must have this head of Dante.”
“I’ve seven heads of Dante already, so I won’t get one,” said Flo.
“He must have been a hydra-headed monster,” said Patty; “I think it
fairly rains heads of Dante in Florence. But I’ve so many people at
home who’ll be glad to have one, that we’re sending a lot.”
* * * * *
The next day was fair and beautiful for their little excursion. Their
two Italian hosts came for them in an imposing equipage, and they drove
out to the park, or Cascine, as it is called.
Patty had been here before, but she always enjoyed the lovely place,
and was glad to pay it a farewell visit. The conversation was rather
limited, but they were used to that now, and laughs and gestures often
made up what they could not express in words.
Mr. Fairfield liked the two young men, and endeavoured to make himself
entertaining, so far as his slight knowledge of Italian would allow.
The festival ended rather abruptly, as the travellers must run no risk
of losing their train, and the girls had to change their pretty, light
dresses for travelling garb.
“Why are you carrying your furnished handbag?” said Flo to Patty, as
they left the hotel. “We won’t be on the train over night.”
“No; but there isn’t room in my trunk for it, and, too, it’s convenient
to have brushes and things. We don’t reach Venice till after ten
o’clock, and I propose to take a nap in the evening hours. I’m awfully
“So am I. Those natives tired me out.”
“Well, we’ve seen the last of them now.”
“I don’t know. They talk of going to Venice.”
“Oh, I hope not. Mr. Homer and Floyd Austin are to meet us there, and
I don’t want those smiling popinjays bothering around.”
“No, I don’t, either.”
The train was a comfortable one, and the party were soon comfortably
settled in it.
Mr. Fairfield had not been able to secure an entire compartment for
themselves, and as they occupied but three seats, an elderly Italian
couple came in with them.
This left one vacant seat, into which the girls piled their wraps and
some magazines and also some candy and flowers, which their gallant
admirers had sent them as a parting souvenir.
They had previously asked the Italian dame, by smiles and signs, if
she cared to use this vacant seat, but as she kept on her queer little
bonnet, and cape, she signed that she had no use for it. Mr. Fairfield
put all their bags and hats in the upper racks and they settled down
for a long, but not unpleasant ride.
For a time the girls chatted, and then Patty looked over some magazines
and papers, while Flo crocheted lace, which was a favourite occupation
of hers. The elderly Italian gentleman was immersed in a newspaper, and
his amiable-looking wife nodded as she alternately dozed and wakened.
“I think,” said Mr. Fairfield, as he at last folded up his own paper,
“I think I can leave you two girls for half an hour while I go to the
smoking car. That kind-faced, motherly lady will do for chaperon, even
if you can’t talk much to each other.”
“Of course,” said Patty, “go ahead. There’s nothing to chaperon us
about, but I just adore that old lady’s looks. She has the air of
mothering the whole world.”
“That’s true,” said Mr. Fairfield, looking at the lady, whose eyes were
closed for the moment. “She’s one of the best types of Italian matron.
Well, then I’ll run away for a bit. The guard has punched our tickets,
so you won’t be bothered, and if any luggage official speaks to you,
refer him to me. They can always understand English.”
He went away, and Patty hoped her father would find some one in the
smoker with whom he could talk, and so while away the time.
The Italian lady looked up as Mr. Fairfield left the compartment, and
at his smiling gestures of adieu, and his nod toward the girls, she
quite understood that she was to lend them her chaperonage, and nodded
assent with a beaming face.
“Amerika,” she said, smiling kindly at Patty.
“Si, Signora,” said Patty, in her pretty, polite way. “Amerique?” she
asked, pointing to Flo.
“Non, non,” said the dame; “Engleesh signorina.”
“Si,” agreed Patty, and there the conversation stopped, much to Patty’s
regret, for she wanted to talk to her new-found friend.
“I shall study Italian before I come again,” she said to Flo; “it
isn’t necessary for travelling purposes,–I mean guards and hotel
clerks,–but it is if you want to converse with your fellow travellers.”
“Yes,” agreed Flo; “but it’s awfully hard to learn.”
In about an hour Mr. Fairfield returned, and then they all went to the
dining-car for dinner. The Italian couple went too, but they did not
sit at a table near the Fairfields.
“She’s lovely,” announced Patty. “I call her Signora Orsini, because I
feel sure she descended from that noble family.”
“In that case, it would be her husband who was of noble descent,”
suggested her father.
“Oh, yes, so it would. Well, it makes no difference. They’re Orsinis.
He’s as nice as she is, only he seems a very quiet man. They scarcely
talk at all.”
After dinner they returned to the compartment in the other car, and
found the Orsinis, as Patty called them, already there. The place
had been lighted up, and presented the appearance of a cosy little
“These trains are most pleasantly arranged,” said Mr. Fairfield. “And
now I’ll leave you again for a short time, and have an after-dinner
smoke, then I’ll come back, and before we know it, the evening will fly
by, and we’ll be in Venice.”
“Stay as long as you like,” said Patty. “I feel as if I had lived with
Madame Orsini all my life, and I have a feeling she’s fond of me.”
“That’s the beauty of her not being able to understand you,” teased Mr.
Fairfield, with a twinkle in his eye.
“Oh, go along! If she _could_ talk to me, and understand me, she’d love
me so she’d want to adopt me.”
“She can’t have you!” cried Mr. Fairfield, in mock alarm. “Don’t come
to so much of an understanding as that!”
“No, I won’t. I’m not ready to leave you yet. Now, go, Daddy, and have
a calm, pleasant smoke with yourself.”
“Madame Orsini” bowed and smiled, and wagged her head protectingly at
the girls, as Mr. Fairfield went away.
“Now,” said Patty, “I just must see where we are at. I have a fine
railroad map of Italy, and I’m going to investigate it.”
She spread the map out before her and she and Flo traced their route.
“You see,” said Patty, “here’s Florence; we left that and followed this
mark to Pistoja; I remember we passed through there while we were at
dinner. It’s too dark now to see the names of the places, but Bologna
is the next stop, and from there we go straight along this line to
Venice. Oh, here we are at Bologna.”
The train stopped and waited quite a time in the station. Patty and
Flo were greatly interested in looking from their windows at the
bustling crowd on the platform. It was brightly lighted, and travellers
were hurrying about, jostled now and then by vendors with trays or
“Stop that boy,” cried Patty, “let’s buy some grapes.”
They called the boy, who came to the train window and sold them great
bunches of delicious grapes, which Patty laid aside for an evening
“Why do they stay here so long?” asked Flo.
“I don’t know,” replied Patty, “unless they are taking on a load of
sausages. Isn’t this the place where they make Bologna sausages?”
“No, you goose, of course it isn’t.”
“Oh, I think it is,” and Patty turned questioningly to the Italian lady.
“Bologna? Sausages?” she said, with an inquiring smile.
“Bologna, si,” returned the dame, but “sausages” she could not
understand, so Patty gave it up.
At last the train started on again, and for a short time the trip was
uneventful. Then the Italian gentleman looked at his watch, spoke to
his wife, and rising, began to get his bags and coat from the rack.
“Why, they’re going to get out,” exclaimed Patty to Flo.
“So they are,” said Flo. “I don’t know why, but I somehow thought
they were going all the way through to Venice. Well, I shall always
remember the old lady’s pleasant face.”
The train was slowing down at a station, and the Italians shook hands
with the girls in farewell.
“Signor?” said the old lady, looking at Patty, with a doubtful
“Oh, yes,” said Patty; “he’ll return. Si, si, signor ritorno soon.”
It was not entirely intelligible, but the train had stopped, and the
guard had flung the door open.
He announced some official information, which was as so much Greek
to the two girls, then, with a final nod of good-by, the old lady
clambered down the steps after her husband, and the guard slammed the
“Parma,” said Flo, reading the name on the station sign; “I suppose
they are going after violets, don’t you, Patty?”
“Yes, probably they’ll pick big bunches along the roadside. But, Flo,
we’ve lost our chaperon. It isn’t at all the thing for two correct
young ladies to be all alone in a railroad train at night.”
“Well, your father will be back in a few minutes.”
“Yes, of course he will. I’m not a bit afraid, but I know daddy won’t
like it. Still, it’s his own fault. We couldn’t help it, if our friend
_would_ get out to pick Parma violets.”
“’Course we couldn’t,” said Flo.
Another half hour went by, and Patty, looking at her watch, said, “Why,
it’s after nine o’clock! We will now eat our grapes. I meant to offer
some to that dear old lady, but she preferred violets, so I had no
The girls ate the grapes, and though they didn’t refer to it, each
secretly wished Mr. Fairfield would come back.
“It does seem queer,” said Patty at last, “for father to stay so long
away. But of course, he thinks the Orsinis are still with us, and if
they were, I wouldn’t give a thought to father’s long absence.”
“He’s probably fallen asleep,” said Flo.
“Of course he has! That’s just it! His dinner and his smoke made him
sleepy, and he dropped off before he knew it. Well, if he doesn’t wake
up before, he’ll have to come and get us when we get to Venice.”
“Maybe he’ll sleep right through.”
“Well, when we get to Venice, I’ll get out then, and hunt up the Royal
Danieli men, and they’ll find him.”
“How capable you Americans are! I don’t mind confessing that I’m a bit
“Pshaw! what is there to be scared at? We’re as safe here as we can be.
Nothing can harm us. The guards would look after us if there were any
danger, but there isn’t any.”
“No, I suppose not,” Flo agreed, but she spoke hesitatingly.
As for Patty, she was not really alarmed, but she couldn’t helping
wishing her father would come back. It would be all well enough in
America or even in England; but alone on an Italian railway, where she
couldn’t make herself understood, and in a country where young ladies
are allowed little or no unconventionality, she had secret misgivings.
But it would never do to let Flo know she was troubled, so she said,
“Well, if daddy can have a nice long nap, so can I. Come, let’s fold up
our coats for pillows and drop asleep ourselves.”
“Oh, no, Patty! It might be dangerous.”
“Pooh, it’s no more dangerous asleep than awake. I’m going to try it
Patty made Flo comfortable first. She opened her dressing case, and
taking out the Cologne water, bathed Flo’s temples refreshingly. Then
she folded her coat, and tucked it beneath her head, and said quietly:
“You needn’t sleep, dear, if you don’t want to, but you’ll rest better
Flo gave her a grateful smile and closed her eyes in order to rest them.
She was tired with the exertions of the day, and the long railway
journey, and Patty was not surprised when, after a very few moments,
she saw that Flo was, without doubt, fast asleep.
As for Patty Fairfield, she had no intention of going to sleep, and
couldn’t have done so, anyway. She felt the responsibility of the
situation, for Snippy had left Flo in Mr. Fairfield’s charge, and
in his absence loyal Patty felt herself his representative. She sat
upright, staring out of the window into the darkness or watching the
doorway, where she expected every moment to see her father enter.
Bereft of even Flo’s chatter, she grew more and more lonely, and only
as the hands of her watch neared ten o’clock did she begin to brighten
up, on the knowledge that they must now soon reach Venice.
“But these trains are always late,” she thought, “so I shan’t hope to
get there before half-past ten.”
And then the time dragged along slowly. Half-past ten came, and no sign
of her father.
She had drawn the window curtain, but she pushed it aside, hoping to
see the lights of Venice. Only a rushing darkness greeted her eyes. She
looked at Flo. It seemed a pity to wake her, and yet Patty felt she
couldn’t endure this loneliness and suspense much longer. She knew the
train should get in at ten, and surely a half hour was enough to allow
for the usual tardiness.
But on went the hands of her little watch, and as it neared eleven
Patty couldn’t stand it any longer.
“Flo,” she said, gently touching the sleeping girl, “Flo, dear.” Flo
moved uneasily, opened her eyes, closed them again, and was as sound
asleep as ever.
“Well, I’ll let her be,” thought Patty, unselfishly. “She couldn’t
help any, and I don’t know that there’s anything to be helped. I
suppose there’s nothing wrong. What could be? Father’s asleep in the
smoking-car, and Flo’s asleep here, so I may as well sit patiently till
we reach Venice, and then they’ll have to wake up, whether they want to
A guard came through the corridor, and looked in at the compartment
He said something in Italian, which Patty couldn’t understand. But she
showed him her watch, and said “Venice? stazione? when?”
She pointed to the hands, and partly comprehending, the guard took
out his own watch and indicated that they would reach the _stazione_
(station) at quarter to twelve.
“Train late?” said Patty, smiling, and still partly understanding, the
guard said, “Si, signorina,” bowed, and went away.
A little cheered at having had some one to speak to, even if for a most
unsatisfactory conversation, Patty sat down again to wait. Her heart
was quite light now, for it was nearly time to reach Venice, and then
all would be well. At half-past eleven she wakened Flo.
“Get up, girlie,” she cried. “We’re almost to Venice, and you must tidy
your hair and put your hat on.”
Flo sat up, wide awake all at once. “Where’s your father?” she said.
“He hasn’t come back,” said Patty, feeling somehow guilty under Flo’s
accusing glance, but determined to stand up for her father. “He must
have fallen asleep, just as you did. I tried twice to wake you, but you
slept like a log.”
“And you’ve been all alone? Oh, Patty, I’m so sorry! Do forgive me!”
“Not at all, you sleepy child. It’s all right, I see lights outside
already. Here, put on your hat.”
Flo rose and yawned, as she took her hat from Patty. They furbished up
their toilets a bit, and soon were all ready to leave the train. Patty
pushed the curtain up, and gazed out of the window.
“The lights are growing thicker now,” she said; “we’re almost in. I
should think the porter would wake father up by this time. Well, I’m
very sure nothing has happened to him.”
Patty’s decided statement gave Flo a clue that Patty _was_ secretly
afraid something _had_ happened to her father, and as Flo had had such
a fear all the time, she, too, stoutly denied it.
“Of course not! Nothing could happen to him. He’s just asleep, as I
was. I don’t see how you got me awake at all. Snippy has to throw cold
water in my face to do it.”
The train drew into the great station. There were many lights, but not
many people about, which was doubtless because of the lateness of the
The guard threw open the door of their compartment, and the two girls
got out. Patty thought the guard looked at them a little curiously, and
supposing he was desirous of a fee, she gave him some coins. He bowed,
and still hovered near them.
“Where is the smoking-car?” asked Patty, but the guard knew not the
strange word, and only shook his head.
“Flo,” said Patty, looking about, “we’d better stand right here. When
father gets out of his car, he’ll come here for us. But didn’t you
think Venice had water streets? These are ordinary roads. And I see
lots of omnibuses, but no gondolas.”
“I suppose the water streets are only in the main part of the city,”
said Flo. “It does seem to be solid land all around the station. I
can’t see any water anywhere.”
“Well, there must be some, somewhere. Flo, where _do_ you suppose
“I don’t know, Patty, and,–and, I’m–awfully frightened.”
“Well, you just stop being frightened. I tell you everything is all
right,–or will be, in a minute.”
The crowd was moving along toward the entrance to the station, through
which all the incoming passengers must go, and Patty reluctantly said,
“We’d better go on into the station, Flo. We can’t stand here, and
father will surely find us there, if–if—-”
Patty nearly broke down, for a sudden conviction had come to her that
something serious _must_ have happened to keep Mr. Fairfield from them
now. The two girls, with their light luggage still in their hands,
followed the crowd through the ticket gate.
“Biglietti,” said the ticket man.
“I haven’t any,” said Patty, and without waiting to hear the man’s
surprised protest, Patty pushed Flo ahead of her, and they went on into
the waiting-room of the station.
“Something has happened, Flo,” she said, “something awful,
perhaps,–but I can’t imagine what it is. Now, we’re alone, and
unprotected in a strange land, and it’s up to us to be brave and
sensible. I shall take the gondola or omnibus, or whatever goes to
the Royal Danieli Hotel, and go right straight there. Then we can get
somebody to look for father. But two young girls can do nothing, and
we’d only waste time.”
“You’re splendid, Patty,” said Flo, who was struggling hard to keep
from crying. “I’m no good at all, but I’ll do just as you say.”
They went on to the platform, where a dozen or more omnibuses stood
waiting, with their doors hospitably open. Names of hotels were in
gilded letters over the doors, but Patty could not see the one she
But at last she discovered an official, who seemed to be a sort
of station agent or train-despatcher, and he had such a kindly,
intelligent face that she addressed him:
“Do you speak English?” she said.
“Yes, miss, a little,” he replied, looking at her with a questioning
“Then please tell me where is the Royal Danieli Hotel?”
“It is in Venice, miss.”
“Oh, yes, of course, I know it is in Venice; but I mean where is its
omnibus? how can I get to it?”
“To get to it, you must go to Venice, ma’am.”
“But I am in Venice!”
“No, ma’am, you are in Milan.”
“What?” cried Patty, aghast at his words.
“This is Milan, ma’am.”
“Are you,–are you quite sure?” Even in her bewildered horror, Patty
realised the ludicrousness of this question.
“Perceive the signboard, ma’am.” The man pointed to large-lettered
sign, which unmistakably announced Milano.
“Flo,” said Patty, in a scared, little voice, “I don’t know what it
means, but it seems we are in Milan instead of in Venice.”
“Oh, Patty!” gasped Flo, as she clung desperately to Patty’s arm; “what
shall we do?”
“I don’t know,” said Patty, slowly; “it’s a pretty serious thing for
two girls to be alone in the middle of the night in a strange Italian
“But I took the train for Venice,” said Patty to the man, and her tone
had in it a faint tinge of accusation, though of course the man was in
no way responsible.
“So, ma’am?” he replied, and in an instant Patty saw that he did not
believe her statements, and that he was covertly laughing at them.
“Come away, Flo,” she said, sternly, and marched the now weeping girl
into the station again.
“Listen, Flo,” said Patty, her face assuming a very grave look. “We are
in an awful predicament. Perhaps more awful than we know ourselves.
We are in Milan, there’s no doubt of that. That’s why we didn’t see
any water or gondolas. Where father is I’ve no idea. Of course there
was some mistake about the train. He may be gone on to Venice,–though
I don’t see how he could have done that without us,–or he may be in
some other city. At any rate, he’s quite as anxious about us as we
can possibly be about ourselves. Now, I don’t know what’s going to
happen to us, but I’m going to do the very best I can to prove that an
American girl can take care of herself in an emergency. We won’t speak
to that man out there again; he’s horrid, and he doesn’t believe what
we say. The ticket office is closed. There’s no one reliable around but
the drivers of those omnibuses. I shall appeal to them.”
“Why don’t you speak to some of the travellers?” asked Flo.
“Oh, you never can judge about them; and they’re mostly Italians
anyway. Have you any money?”
“No; only a little change. Snippy carries the purse.”
“Well, I’ve not very much, but I think I’ve enough. Now, come with me.
Stand by me, and don’t act one bit frightened. That’s all you can do to
help,–so _do it!_”
When Patty was face to face with a serious emergency, it always made
her curt of speech, and her stern manner made Flo recover herself
at once, so that it was two very dignified-looking young women who
approached the drivers who, whip in hand, stood lined up along the
Although they sometimes seemed eager to attract passengers, none of
them asked the girls to get into their vehicles, and Patty went along
until she came to one whose face she liked.
“Do you speak English?” she asked, as she looked at him coldly.
“Which is the largest and best hotel in Milan, near the station?”
The driver pointed to a large hotel just across the road, scarcely a
stone’s throw from the station itself.
“The Palace Hotel, madame,” he said respectfully.
“Where is its omnibus?”
“There, madame,” and he pointed to a well-appointed vehicle standing
“Get in, Flo,” said Patty, briefly. “Thank you,” she added, turning to
bestow a coin on the man.
“To the hotel,” she then directed, as she got into the omnibus, and
seated herself beside Flo.
“Oh, Patty!” said Flo, trembling, as she grasped Patty’s hand. They
were all alone in the omnibus, and in two minutes it was entering the
driveway of the hotel.
“Be careful, now,” said Patty, still sternly. “We’re not out of the
woods yet,–and if you cry or look distressed you’ll spoil all I’m
trying to do, and I’ll not answer for the consequences. Now, brace up!”
Flo braced up, and as they alighted from the omnibus, Patty motioned
for the porter to bring the bags and wraps.
She went directly to the desk, where the night attendant was.
“You speak English, of course?” she said.
“We have had an accident,–a misfortune. My friend and myself must
stay here to-night. I wish to engage three communicating rooms, and I
wish also the services of a maid,–I prefer an elderly woman,–who will
remain with us through the night and will occupy the third room.”
“Yes, mademoiselle.” The man looked astonished, but Patty’s quiet
dignity, and Flo’s impassive English stolidity, gave them an air of
authority, which he was disinclined to ignore.
“Our large luggage was left on the train, owing to the–accident,” went
on Patty. “I will pay you fifty francs in advance and will settle the
rest of the bill to-morrow. For the present it is imperative that we go
to our rooms at once.”
“Yes, mademoiselle,” repeated the bewildered man. He was accustomed to
American guests, but this was a new type.
He rang a bell, he despatched one or two messengers, he called a
porter, and in a few moments Patty saw her bag and cloak carried by,
the elevator door thrown open, and a pleasant-faced matronly woman
coming toward them.
“This is Mrs. Ponderby, mademoiselle. She is one of our linen-keepers,
but she is English, and most trusty and capable, so I offer you her
Patty almost fell into the arms of the kind-looking woman, she was so
glad to see her, but she only shook hands and said, “I am glad to have
your services, Mrs. Ponderby,–come, let us go upstairs.”
When they were safely in their rooms, behind locked doors, Flo threw
herself into Mrs. Ponderby’s motherly arms and wept as hard as she
could, which was really pretty hard.
Patty stood by, looking at her. It had been a nerve strain for Patty,
and now the reaction was coming on. Her lip quivered, and she said: “It
isn’t fair of you, Flo, to take up all Mrs. Ponderby; I’m worse off
than you are, for I don’t know but what my father is killed in some
awful railroad smash-up.”
“He c-couldn’t be,” said Flo, sobbing still; “there c-couldn’t have
been a smash-up on that train, unless we had known ab-bout it!”
“Well, I don’t know where father is, anyhow; and he doesn’t know where
Then Patty burst into real sobs, and the kind-hearted Englishwoman was
at her wits’ end to know what to do with these two strange midnight
visitors. But she rose nobly to the occasion.
“There, there, my lambs,” she said, soothingly, “you can tell me all
about it presently. But first let us get comfortable. Take off your
dusty travelling frocks, and–have you any dressing-gowns?”
“No,” said Patty; “only just our night things. I’ve only my furnished
toilet bag, and Flo hasn’t even that.”
“Never mind, dearie; we’ll improvise dressing jackets out of these big
bath towels. Now shall I ring the bell and order a bite of supper? A
sandwich now,–and a cup of coffee?”
“Not coffee,” said Flo, rousing herself a bit, “it keeps me awake.
Let’s have chocolate.”
“Yes,” said Patty; “hot chocolate and chicken sandwiches.”
“And t-tongue,” put in sobbing Flo.
“And jam,” said Patty, almost smiling, now.
“Yes, yes,–assorted sandwiches, and nice hot cocoa.”
Mrs. Ponderby rang the bell and gave the order, and by the time the
tray was brought, she had helped the girls to bathe their faces, and
had deftly pinned huge bath towels round their shoulders in a very
good imitation of dressing-sacques. And not until they were sipping
their second cups of cocoa, and had made way with a goodly number of
the little sandwiches, did she say, “Now tell me all about it.”
Patty told the whole story of their trip from Florence–and how her
father had left them to go to the smoking-car for half an hour, and
they had not seen him again.
“Do you suppose brigands attacked him?” asked Patty, her eyes wide open
with fear and wonder.
“No, dearie; not that. But it’s a strange story you tell, and I can
think of only one explanation. Rest here, and don’t think about it for
five minutes, till I return.”
Mrs. Ponderby hurried away, and was back again in less than five
“It’s as I thought,” she said. “That train you took from Florence is
really in two sections. That is, half of its cars are for Venice,
and half for Milan. At Bologna, the train is divided and sent in two
directions. You see, Bologna is the southern point of a triangle. From
there, one travels northeast to Venice, or northwest to Milan. Those
two cities form the other two points of the triangle. So, when the
train was divided at Bologna, some cars, including the one your father
was in, went on to Venice; while other cars, including the one you were
in, branched off to Milan, and here you are.”
Patty cogitated on this.
“Then,” she said, “when father tried to return to our car, our car
“Exactly; it had already been detached and sent to Milan.”
“Could father find this out?”
“Oh, yes; from the train guard. But he should have taken his seats in a
car for Venice in the first place.”
“We were put in our places by the man from the hotel in Florence,”
declared Patty, “so it wasn’t father’s fault at all.”
“Then you should all have changed cars at Bologna, and taken seats in a
“Yes,” agreed Patty; “that’s where the mistake occurred. And all
because neither father nor I understand Italian. I daresay the guard
announced that,–he was shouting all sorts of directions,–but of
course, I didn’t understand him, and father didn’t either. And, too,
I daresay father was asleep. You know, we all thought we were going
directly through to Venice, so we spent the evening as pleasantly as
we could, never dreaming we had to change cars or anything.”
“Yes, that explains it all, Miss Fairfield, and you have proved
yourself a most sensible and capable young woman to manage as well as
you have done. An Italian city is no place for two girls alone.”
“I know it, Mrs. Ponderby. Don’t think I didn’t realise the seriousness
of it all. But I did the best I could. You know I am an American.”
Patty said this so proudly that the Englishwoman gave her a look of
“True,” she said; “an English girl might not have been so brave.”
“No, I wasn’t,” confessed Flo; “I depended on Patty, for I knew she
could take care of things if anybody could.”
“But,” said Patty, suddenly; “think of father! When he tried to return
to us, and couldn’t find us, what _do_ you suppose he did!”
“He couldn’t do anything,” said Mrs. Ponderby, “except to find out that
you had gone on to Milan.”
“He couldn’t find that out,” said Patty, slowly, “unless he found
some one who could explain it to him in English. You see, it’s quite
complicated, with the divided train and all. And besides, father was
nearly frantic with worry about us.”
“Yes, he must have been,” said Mrs. Ponderby, gravely. “But he could do
nothing at all, except to go on to Venice. He’s there now, of course.
Shall you not telegraph him that you are safe?”
“Indeed I will!” cried Patty. “Bless you for suggesting it. I seem to
have lost my wits. Oh, Flo, what _will_ Snippy say when father gets
there without us?”
“She’ll be in an awful way,” said Flo. “And Nan will be ’most crazy.
Oh, Patty, they’re really having a worse time of it than we are, now.
Just think! They don’t know where we are, even!”
“Yes,” said Patty, thinking. “Father must know we came on to Milan.”
“No, he doesn’t; he may think we got off at some other station. You
know the train stopped three or four times. Or he may think we got off
at Bologna and staid there.”
“That’s so,” agreed Patty. “Well, he knows me well enough to know that
I’ll do the best I can; and I do believe, Flo, that he feels it a worse
responsibility to have lost you than me!”
“If he doesn’t, it won’t be Snip’s fault,” said Flo, grimly. “She’ll
give him a waxing, I’ll warrant.”
“It wasn’t father’s fault,” said Patty, staunchly. “That hotel man
ought to have told us to change cars at Bologna. Nice railroad
management! Well, I’ll telegraph at once, for he can’t very well
telegraph to us, when he doesn’t know where we are.” Mrs. Ponderby
brought blanks, and Patty wrote a long telegram:
“We are nicely fixed at the Palace Hotel, with comfortable
rooms, and a dear English duenna. Send Snippy for us as soon
as possible, and we will gladly rejoin you.
“Patty and Flo.”
Mrs. Ponderby bustled away to send the telegram, and then returned to
tuck her charges into bed.
“It’s lucky you know the hotel your people are staying at in Venice,”
she said; “and now go quietly to sleep, for you’ve done all you can.
But I doubt me if your poor father is sleeping much.”
“Or Snippy,” said Flo.
“Or Nan,” said Patty. “We’ve got to do the sleeping for all the family,
to-night, Flo; so let’s get about it.”
Knowing she had done all she could in the matter, and thoroughly worn
out with the journey and the after excitement, Patty turned on her
pillow, and was soon sound asleep.
* * * * *
But far from sleep at that moment was Mr. Fairfield. The poor man was
passing through an awful experience. As Patty had surmised, he had
dropped asleep in the smoking-car, but he had dozed only for a few
moments, and, of course, had no thought other than that his two young
charges were in their cosy compartment, with the elderly and kind
Then, soon after leaving Bologna, and all unsuspecting that the train
had been divided, he started to return to Patty and Flo, and found to
his amazement that that car with several others had been disconnected
at Bologna. Mr. Fairfield was stunned. He found an official who could
talk fairly good English, and laid the case before him. But there
was nothing to be done. Although a clever and resourceful man, Mr.
Fairfield felt that his hands were tied. He knew Patty was on the train
for Milan, but he could not guess at what station she would get off,
if indeed she had not left the train at Bologna.
For the moment his anxiety for the girls’ safety was lost in an
endeavour to think of some way to get into communication with them.
There was nothing to be gained by getting off the train himself, and
yet he hated to go on to Venice without them. But to return to Bologna
would be a wild-goose chase, and, too, there was no train back for
several hours. He felt sure that Patty would be brave and sensible, but
he could not imagine what course she would pursue, and he well knew
that real dangers beset the two lonely girls.
So he wrote telegrams which he put off to be sent at the next station.
He sent one to Bologna, to be called out in the station, on the chance
of Patty’s being there. He sent duplicates to Milan, and to every
intervening station at which the train stopped. He felt little hope
that any of these would really reach Patty, but he could think of no
other plan. Had he been sure she would go through to Milan, he would
have gone directly there himself, but so few and inconvenient were
the trains that this plan was dismissed. And, too, he must go on to
Venice, where Nan and Snippy were awaiting them.
An awful dread of Snippy’s reception of his news filled Mr. Fairfield
with consternation, but, as he thought, since his own daughter was
lost, as well as Snippy’s young charge, his own grief was as great as
hers. And try as he would to rely on Patty’s bravery, and capability in
an emergency, he shuddered to think of those two girls, carried swiftly
through the night, alone, unprotected, and wondering why he did not
return to them.
It was some comfort to realise that the kind old Italian pair were with
them. Had Mr. Fairfield known that they left the train at Parma, he
would have been racked with a worse anxiety. But he hoped that wherever
they all were, the quartette were together, and his faith in the kindly
old people was such that he felt sure they would look after the girls
So he arrived in Venice a sad, crushed man, and stepped into the
beautiful gondola sent to meet him by the Royal Danieli Hotel without a
glance at the canals, the bridges, the buildings, and the lights, that
are so fascinating to the newcomers to Venice.
With his head bowed in his hands he made the trip to the hotel, and
went in to find Nan and Snippy awaiting him in the reception room.
“Where are the girls?” cried Nan, gaily, as she greeted her husband,
little thinking of anything more serious than that they had paused
outside to look at the scene, or something like that.
“Have you our own rooms, all right?” said Mr. Fairfield, abruptly.
“Yes, Fred,” said Nan, wondering at his manner.
“Then let us go to them at once,” he said, and so grave was his face
that, without another word, Nan led the way, and the three went up the
magnificent ducal staircase, to their rooms on the next floor. Here, in
a few frank statements, Mr. Fairfield told his story. As he concluded,
Snippy’s eyes flashed fire, and she glared at him.
“You have lost Miss Flo!” she exclaimed. “I trusted her to your care!”
“Mrs. Postlethwaite,” said Mr. Fairfield, and the fact of his using her
name made Snippy pause to listen, “when my own daughter is also lost,
you cannot fairly say I betrayed a trust. I admit my culpability in the
matter, but I think in this very grave emergency we must all do what
we can to find the girls, and not give way to useless recrimination.”
“I think so, too,” said Nan, taking her husband’s hand, “and, Mrs.
Postlethwaite, while I sympathise with you regarding Flo, you must also
realise what we are suffering regarding Patty; and though you are Flo’s
guardian and governess,–yet Patty is our daughter.”
Snippy’s sense of justice came to her rescue, and she said, more
“Forgive me, Mr. Fairfield; I was so shocked and upset at Miss Flo’s
disappearance, I quite overlooked Miss Patty. I won’t admit that you
are in a worse case than I, for I am responsible to Miss Flo’s mother,
while Miss Patty is your own child. But I appreciate the situation, and
we will work together to do all we can to get the children back as soon
“That’s the sensible Snippy that you are!” said Mr. Fairfield, as he
heartily clasped her hand; “but, alas! I cannot think of anything to
do. It doesn’t seem right to refer the case to the police, as I can’t
help thinking the girls are safe somewhere with the Italian lady and
gentleman, and if I know my Patty, she’ll telegraph me as soon as she
can. Thank Heaven she knows our Venice address. Hard as it is, I think
the only thing we can do now is to wait until morning.”
The others agreed to this, and so they all went to bed, though not to
Very early the next morning, Snippy, who had fallen into a light doze,
was awakened by a tapping at her door.
Hastily flinging on her dressing-gown, she opened the door to see Mr.
Fairfield standing there with a smiling face that betokened good news.
He waved a telegram at her, and exclaimed: “The girls are all right,
Snippy. We may congratulate each other!”
“Thank Heaven!” cried the delighted woman, and then her eyes eagerly
devoured the telegram Patty had sent.
“Bless her heart!” she said; “she’s a good girl, is Miss Patty, Mr.
Fairfield. And to think of those two dear children alone in Milan! How
soon can I start?”
Mr. Fairfield smiled at her ready acceptance of Patty’s suggestion, and
“You must get your breakfast first. The girls are all right now, you
know. I’ve telegraphed them that we’ve received their message and will
send for them. You can reach them by noon, I think, and have them back
here before sunset. I’ll go for them, if you prefer.”
But Snippy declared herself quite willing to go, so, after an early
breakfast, she set out for Milan.
Accustomed to travelling, she did not mind the journey at all, and
in her gladness at Flo’s safety, she was once again her own staid,
She reached the hotel duly, paid the bills the girls had incurred, gave
Mrs. Ponderby a generous gift from Mr. Fairfield, and many earnest
thanks from them all.
“It’s so nice that you can’t scold me, Snippy,” remarked Flo, after
they were in the train for Venice; “somehow, I think you’d like to
scold somebody, and you know that I wasn’t a bit to blame. You daren’t
scold Mr. Fairfield; Patty deserves only praise; so, poor thing, you’ve
nobody to berate, have you?”
“I blame myself, Miss Flo,” said Snippy, primly, “that I ever let you
out of my sight.”
“Oh, well, Snips, all’s well that ends well, and we’ll have a booful
time in Venice.”
Flo never took Snippy very seriously, so the two girls gave themselves
up to enjoyment of their journey, and looked forward eagerly to their
arrival in Venice at last.
Patty sprang from the train straight into her father’s arms, and the
welcoming kiss he gave her told her how glad he was to have her safely
beside him once more.
“And now,” said Nan, after they had all welcomed each other, “we’ve
just time for a leisurely water trip back to the hotel. This is our
gondola, the flowers are in honour of your arrival.”
Nan pointed to a graceful craft which was waiting for them. It was a
well-shaped, freshly-painted gondola, and its black sides and shining
metal made it quite distinct from the more dingy affairs all around.
Also, the gondolier wore a resplendent sash of bright colours, and his
handsome Italian face was good-natured and smiling.
“It’s ours,” said Nan, proudly; “I mean, while we’re here. I picked
it out yesterday, and it’s the finest gondola in all Venice, eh,
The gondolier showed his white teeth in an assenting grin, though he
scarcely understood the question.
“It’s angelic!” declared Patty, as she stepped in. “And the lovely dry
carpet! I thought of course the bottom of a gondola was of a wet and
“You goose!” cried Nan. “But sit down, Patty, and drink it all in.”
“What! the canal?” cried Patty, but she sat down and looked about her
with that awed thrill that the first sight of Venice brings to all good
It was not far from the sunset hour, and the cabin of the gondola had
been removed, so they could see the gay scenes all about.
“It’s perfect!” said Patty, as she gazed delightedly at sea, and sky,
and buildings. “It’s all my fancy painted it, only I didn’t think it
would be a bit like this!”
“I did,” said Flo. “It’s exactly like the postcards of it, only bigger.”
“So it is,” said Nan; “I recognised that myself. And the more you see
of it, the more you’ll love it.”
Then they came to the Rialto Bridge, and Patty wanted to get out and
walk across it, but her father said there wasn’t time then, she must
wait till the next day. So she and Flo just sat still and drifted
calmly along, both feeling that the scene was too lovely even for
words of appreciation.
On they swept, round the great curves of the Grand Canal, and now and
then the gondolier sang out the name of a house or a church they were
“He’s worse than an elevated road conductor,” said Patty. “I can’t make
out a word he says; but then I don’t want to. I don’t care to-night
which church is which, and if the Borgias had lived in Browning’s
house, I should make no objection.”
“Well, here’s the Piazzetta,” said her father; “you must learn this, as
you’ll spend a lot of time here. It leads to the Piazza of St. Mark,
and is the meeting place of all Venice.”
“Then I suppose you’ll call St. Mark’s the meeting-house,” said Patty;
“it sounds provincial to me.”
“Don’t be disrespectful,” said her father; “before two days have
passed, you’ll be everlastingly making tracks for the Piazza.”
“Not I,” said Patty; “I expect to live in a gondola. Can’t I have one
all to myself, Father? Just for Flo and me, I mean. You and Nan will be
always wanting this one.”
“We’ll get another, if you like, girlie. But I won’t let you and Flo
go alone in it. Snippy and I are to accompany you always hereafter.
Why, first thing you knew you’d be back in Milan! But here we are at
The gondola turned softly round into a side canal which led past the
steps of the Hotel Royal Danieli, and they all stepped out.
Patty soon learned the knack of gracefully balancing herself as she
disembarked, but Flo was nervously uncertain of her steps.
“I don’t like the wabbly things!” she exclaimed, as she almost slipped
upon the wet lower step of the hotel entrance.
“Oh,” said Nan, “you’ll get used to bobbling around in a day or two.
They’re really lots easier to get into than your London ’buses.”
“Indeed they are,” said Patty. “I love ’em. I’m going to try to have
water introduced into the New York streets. It’s the nicest sort of
Then they all went into the beautiful hotel, which used to be the
palace of a great Italian family.
The elaborate architecture and decorations, and many of the magnificent
pieces of furniture were still there, and the grand staircase, with
lights and palms and flowers, was an impressive sight.
“Well,” said Patty, “this makes ‘the grandeur that was Rome’ look like
three United States dimes!”
“Oh, Patty!” cried Nan, “how can you use slang in Venice?”
But the allusion was lost on Flo and Snippy, who knew little of
Their rooms looked out on the Grand Canal, and there was a wide board
sidewalk between the hotel and the water.
This was crowded with people promenading up and down, both Italians and
“Well,” said Patty to Flo, through the open door of their adjoining
rooms. “Will you look at that! If it isn’t like the board walk at
Flo had never seen Atlantic City, but she, too, was fascinated by the
brilliant pageant, and the two girls sat in the window, gazing out,
quite forgetting that they had been told to change their frocks for
dinner. Nan came in, trailing her pretty white draperies.
“Why, girls, haven’t you begun to dress?” she said. “You must hurry. We
want to dine and then go Venicing by moonlight.”
“Ooh, ee!” cried Patty; “I’ll be attired in two minutes. Hurry up,
Flo. Snippy will hook you, and Nan will help me, won’t you, ducky
stepmother o’ mine?”
“Yes, if you’ll fly ’round,” said Nan, laughing, as Patty shook down
her sunny tangle of curls, and then shook it up again, and twisted a
white ribbon through it.
“What shall I wear, Nan? Open my trunk and get out anything you like.”
“This light green thing, with silver lace on it, comes first,” said
Nan, diving into Patty’s trunk.
“All right, I’ll wear that. Do I want a hat?”
“No; your hair looks lovely. Here’s a white and silver scarf you can
take, to wear out after dinner.”
“All right, honey. Here, hook me up, please; where’s my priceless
string of Roman pearl beads?”
“Here they are, but I think your pink coral prettier.”
“Not a bit, you colour-blind infant. These pure white pearls, warranted
pure white wax, are the only thing to wear with this green and silver
“Yes, you’re right,” said Nan, as Patty, with toilette completed, stood
fair and sweet for inspection. “You always do wear just the right
“So do you,” was the affectionate reply, and arm in arm they went down
the great staircase.
The party all met in one of the drawing-rooms, and Mr. Fairfield
surveyed his pretty wife and daughter with the pride he always felt in
their charm and attractiveness.
Flo, too, looked dainty and well-dressed, and Snippy, in her black
satin, was a perfect model of an English duenna.
“Come on,” said Nan, to her husband, “let us go in to dinner.”
“Wait a moment,” said Mr. Fairfield, looking at his watch. “It isn’t
“Yes, it is, Daddy,” said Patty, who was darting about in her
excitement; now looking out of the window,–now admiring the
appointments indoors. “Lots of people have gone to the dining-room.”
“And here are lots more to go,” said her father, triumphantly, as three
smiling young men, resplendent in evening clothes, made a simultaneous
and sudden appearance.
“Why, you blessed boys!” cried Patty, as with outstretched hands and
shining eyes she greeted Peter Homer, Floyd Austin, and Caddy Oram.
“Rejoiced at being reunited to their long-lost friends, the young
men rolled their eyes in ecstasy,” said Austin, and as he nudged
the others, they all three struck an attitude and rolled their eyes
ridiculously toward the ceiling.
“Oh, I’m so _glad_ to see you!” exclaimed Patty; “how dear of you to
come while we’re here! Isn’t it, Flo?”
“Yes, awfully jolly,” said Flo, who was glad to see the boys, but could
not be so spontaneous of manner as Patty.
“Now we’ll go to dinner,” said Mr. Fairfield, and then it came out that
he had known the three young men were in Venice, and had invited them
to dinner that night as a surprise to Patty and Flo.
It was a merry dinner, indeed. Snippy and the elder Fairfields were so
glad to have the girls safely with them again that they were fairly
beaming with joy.
And as for the five young people, they were just bubbling over with the
merriment of youth and happiness.
“Have you had a good time all through Italy?” asked Peter Homer, of
“Oh, yes, indeed it has been the pleasurablest pleasure trip I could
imagine. Everything has gone right,–except,” she paused suddenly, as
she remembered the episode of the night before. But she resolved not
to bring up the subject then, so she went on, saying, “except that of
course we were lonely in Florence without you three, and the other
Wonderers. But we can wonder through Venice together, and oh, won’t it
be lovely! I haven’t seen Venice at all yet, except just the row up
from the station.”
“Venice is Heaven and water,” said Peter Homer, and Austin droned out:
“Having made a pretty good epigram, he waited for the applause due him.”
“He’ll get it, too,” said Patty, softly clapping her hands. “Venice
_is_ Heaven and water. I’ve already noticed it, and should have said it
myself, if I’d thought of it.”
“Never mind,” said Floyd, consolingly; “you can say it to the next
bunch of people you meet, and then you’ll get some nice applause.”
As soon as dinner was over, Mr. Fairfield invited the whole party to
go for a moonlight row. He had engaged a barca, which is larger than a
gondola, and it held them all comfortably.
As they glided out into the Grand Canal, Patty fairly held her
breath at the marvel of the scene. The moon, not far from full, sent
silver-crested ripples along the surface of the water. The strange
and wonderful buildings loomed weirdly against the sky. On the bridges
and quays were sparkling lights and merry people; while ever and again
other silent, dark gondolas glided swiftly past their own craft.
“Oh,” said Patty,–“oh!” Realising the beauty of the whole effect, even
Floyd Austin refrained from making his nonsensical speeches, and all
sat silent and absorbed, as the gondoliers plashed their oars.
“Sing, Patty,” said Nan, at last.
“Yes, do,” said everybody, but Patty said:
“No, that would be out of the picture. Ask the gondoliers to sing.”
“No,” said Peter Homer, quietly. “You sing first, Patty, and then we’ll
have them sing a barcarole.”
“I’d do anything to hear them sing a barcarole. What is it? It sounds
like something to eat.”
“Patty!” cried Flo, “don’t talk of eating in this enchanted place!”
“Well, I won’t,” said Patty, good-naturedly. “What shall I sing?”
“Some pretty little sentimental thing,” suggested Floyd. “Soft and low,
“I don’t know much sentimental music,” said Patty, “but I’ll sing
So as the boat silently sped along the water, eluding other boats here
and there, guided by the skilful gondoliers, Patty’s sweet voice sang
softly, to a gentle, charming air:
“Away and away from the busy town,
Soft on the sea the stars shine down;
And nobody knows of the stars and the sea,
But Mine and Me.
“Away and away the wind breathes low,
The branches are waving to and fro;
And nobody knows of the wind in the tree,
But Mine and Me.
“Away and away in a far somewhere,
The roses are red and sweet and fair;
And nobody knows of a rose that may be,
But Mine and Me.
“Away and away on a blue lagoon,
Shines softly,–softly,–the silvery moon;
And nobody knows of the wavelets’ plea,
But Mine and Me.”
The last strains rang out across the water, and as Patty’s voice
ceased, a whispered “Brava!” was heard from one of the gondoliers.
“Brava, indeed,” said Peter Homer. “Thank you, Patty, for a great
pleasure. Now, the gondoliers shall sing for you in return.”
They were easily induced to do so, and their Italian songs kept time to
the rippling dip of their trained touch of the oar.
“I’m in the seventh heaven,” murmured Patty, as a song came to an end.
“And water,” supplemented Caddy. “Don’t forget your new-found epigram.”
“But I’m not in the water,” rejoined Patty, laughing. “What is that
church? You may as well make up your minds to tell me every time, for
I’m not going to try to remember. I don’t think one ought to remember
anything in Venice, but just drift along and look and wonder.”
“That is the Santa Maria della Salute,” said her father.
“Indeed!” said Patty, saucily. “And why are the statues around its dome
all on bicycles?”
“They’re not! Patty, I’m ashamed of you!”
“Well, they look as if they are? Don’t they, Caddy?”
“Exactly. But they are bicycles only by moonlight; in broad daylight
they are quite different. I’ll bring you to-morrow, and show you.”
They rowed around in desultory fashion, enjoying the evening, now and
then waxing merry and talking nonsense, and again, growing pensive, as
the moonlight demanded.
At last they stopped at the Piazzetta, and Mr. Fairfield took the party
to the Piazza for ices.
“Oh,” cried Patty, as she saw the gay scene; banners flying, a band
playing, lights sparkling; people walking about, and sitting at small
tables; “oh, why didn’t we come here sooner! Moonlight and water pale
beside this fairyland! Oh,–ooh!”
Patty almost danced about in glee. She loved gay sound and sight, and
this was so novel and so brilliant it delighted her beyond measure.
“There, there, child,” said her father; “calm your transports. Remember
this is your first night in Venice. You must learn to get used to it.”
“I will,” said Patty, rapturously. “I’d love to. Just give me time!”
Peter Homer was watching her with an intense interest in her naïve
“You are seeing Italy the way I want you to,” he said, as they all sat
down at the little tables.
“Is this your Venice?” asked Patty, glancing about at the crowds.
“Yes, it’s all my Venice. I mean the way we’re seeing it to-night. The
rapid impressions of the moonlight and water, followed by this gay and
lively scene, _is_ Venice. And to-morrow–many to-morrows, I shall show
you other sides of the city’s charm, until you can mingle all your
memories into a perfect picture of the whole.”
“You are so good to me,” said Patty; “I like to have you take such an
interest in my sight-seeing.”
“And I like to take it, but suppose you see if you can take an interest
in these ices and cakes that are approaching us.”
“I just guess I can!” said Patty. “I’m as hungry as if I were in New
The days in Venice rippled by so happily that Patty couldn’t realise
how fast they were going. Their own party was usually joined by some or
all of the three young men, whose hotel was not far away.
Although it was in early November, the weather was only pleasantly
crisp, and during much of the day it was warm, with an Indian summer
haze in the air.
“What mood this morning, oh, Fair One with golden locks?” said Floyd
Austin, as he came into the hotel and found Patty idly sitting in the
“Aimless and amiable,” she replied, smiling at him.
“Ha! ’tis a mood that well befitteth mine own. Let’s go and feed the
“All right, let’s. Flo’s having her hair washed, and Nan and father
have gone off somewhere, so I’m glad to have somebody to play with.”
“H’m–a doubtful compliment,–but I’ll forgive you. Get your hat.”
Patty flew for her hat and cloak, and paused to look in at Flo’s door.
“I’m going to the Piazza,” she said, “with Floyd, to feed the pigeons.
Come on over, when your hair is dry.”
“All right, I will,” said Flo, as intelligibly as she could through
masses of wet locks.
Patty ran on downstairs, and joined Floyd, and together they sauntered
along toward the Piazza.
“I can’t imagine being busy in Venice,” said Patty, looking at the
idlers of all castes that were everywhere about. “I don’t see how they
ever get anything done.”
“They don’t,” said Floyd; “nobody has anything to do,–or if he does,
he doesn’t do it. Let’s cross over here, and look in the shop windows.”
“Yes; I love to look in windows. And I want to get some silver things
for my memory chain. What shall I get?”
“Absurd question! Of course you must get a little silver
gondola,–there’s a beauty, see it? And a Lion of St. Mark; and a
pigeon,–oh, Venice has so many typical toys,–it’s too easy!”
“Yes, so it is. I had hard work to find anything in Florence, though.”
They went into several shops, one after another, and Patty bought
little trinkets to hang on her chain, and other souvenirs beside.
“What a very long tail the lion has,” she said, as she looked at some
bronze paper-weights that were models of the famous beast.
“Yes; it would make a lovely poem. ‘The Lion of St. Mark’s, with his
very long tail,’—-Go on.”
“‘Wept a whole week ’cos he wasn’t a whale,’” said Patty, promptly; for
making verses was one of their favourite games; “go on, yourself.”
“‘For,’ he said, ‘here is water all over the place,—-’”
“‘And I’m sure I could swim with exquisite grace.’”
“Good for you, Patty; you had the rhyming lines, that’s hardest. I’ll
take ’em next time.”
“All right; here you are! ‘A poor little pigeon was hungry one day—-’”
“‘And he hoped Floyd and Patty would come by that way.’”
“‘As they were approaching, he spied them afar,—-’”
“And he said, ‘What a fine-looking couple they are!’”
“Oh, Floyd, how vain you are!”
“Speak for yourself! You don’t seem to object to your own share of the
“Of course I don’t. Come on; after that compliment from the pigeon, we
must give him a whole heap of corn.”
“How will you know which pigeon’s the one?”
“Oh, I can tell by the expression in his eye. Get some corn, please; a
lot of it.”
As they neared the east end of the Piazza, they had to step carefully,
lest they tread on the hundreds of pigeons which crowded their feet,
eager for corn.
Floyd bought the corn from the vendors near by, and handed a parcel to
“Now I see why they call these cornucopias,” she said, taking the paper
horn that held the yellow kernels. “I suppose this shaped twist of
paper was first used to hold corn for St. Mark’s pigeons.”
“Of course it was. Somebody had a corner in corn, and so he had to
invent cornucopias to hold it all.”
“What nonsense you _do_ talk,” said Patty, giggling at his foolishness.
“There, that’s the pigeon who has been watching and waiting for us.”
She pointed to a very large, fat bird, who stood with a pompous air, a
little aloof from the rest. His neck and breast shone in the sunlight,
and the iridescent gleams shimmered with every graceful movement.
“He’s proud,” said Patty, “and won’t deign to coax for corn, like the
“He’s stuffed, you mean! I don’t believe he could eat another grain
unless it was pushed down his throat for him. The last three letters of
his name should be pronounced silent.”
“P-i-g. Oh! he isn’t any such thing! He’s simply more polite than the
rest. Watch him eat.”
Patty threw some corn to him, and the pigeon ate it with a quiet
dignity, but they soon realised that any more might give him a fit of
apoplexy, so they fed it all to the others.
It was great fun to watch the pigeons, and especially to watch the
little children feed them. Babies of two or three years would timidly
throw a grain of corn, and then run squealing away from the commotion
“Let’s go and see something,” said Patty, when their corn was all gone
and she had grown tired of sitting still.
“All right, but don’t go far. Shall it be the Cathedral or the Doge’s
“The Palace. I want to go into those horrible dungeons once more before
I leave Venice.”
So they loitered slowly through the rooms of the Palace, and then
crossed the Bridge of Sighs.
“I always smile when I cross this bridge,” said Patty, “because the
poor old bridge has had so many weeping people cross it, that I’m sure
it’s glad of the change.”
“Of course it is. We ought to stand here and grin for a week, to make
up for the groans and wails with which these poor old walls must be
saturated. But I say, Patty, here’s a small party of tourists with a
guide. Let’s join them to go through the dungeons.”
As visitors were not allowed in the prisons without being officially
conducted, this was a good plan, and once again Patty made the tour of
the dark, dismal holes, where prisoners were confined, tortured, and
put to death.
“Ugh!” said Floyd, as they at last came out into the sunlight again,
“how can you want to see those horrors, when you can look at this
They stood on the sidewalk in front of the Palace–and saw, spread out
before them, the blue water, sparkling with gold ripples; the blue sky,
flecked with soft, white clouds; and all the beautiful vista of Venice.
“I don’t know,” said Patty, thoughtfully. “I didn’t enjoy it as a
spectacle, but I wanted a memory of those prison cells, as well as of
the beautiful things. Oh, here comes Flo,–isn’t she the beautiful
thing, with her raving locks all freshly washed and ironed!”
Flo came smiling toward them, followed by the inevitable Snippy, who,
having had her lesson, never let her young mistress stir without her.
But nobody minded, for Snippy was an agreeable, if not very merry
companion, and, too, she had a kind habit of effacing herself from the
conversation, when the young people wanted to chatter nonsense.
The last evening of their stay in Venice, Mr. Fairfield gave a
water-party. They had made a number of pleasant acquaintances, and
these, in addition to their own immediate party, made about two score.
Several gondolas had been engaged, and these the gondoliers, with rival
pride, had decorated gaily.
Lanterns swung from the cabins, and flowers and gay streamers gave the
craft a festal air. The gondoliers, too, wore brilliant garb, and as
the fleet floated away from the hotel, it was a picturesque sight.
Patty wore a fluffy, light blue dress, and a long, light blue cloak,
lined with white silk, which enveloped her from head to foot. It had an
ermine collar, for the evenings were growing chill; and a dainty blue
toque, edged with ermine, sat saucily on Patty’s gold curls.
“You look a picture!” said Peter Homer, as he handed her into a gondola.
“An old master?” asked Patty, smiling gaily at him.
“No, indeed. Rather like one of your new American masters, who draw
such fascinating girls.”
“Thank you for a subtle compliment,” said Patty, comfortably arranging
herself on the red-cushioned seat. “You may sit beside me for that.”
“Thank you. My effort was not in vain, then. Virtue, like Venice, is
its own reward.”
The fleet started and made a delightful pre-arranged trip along the
Grand Canal, and through many of the most picturesque smaller canals.
Their gondolas kept together as much as possible, and gay chat was
tossed across from one to another. Returning, they stopped at the
Piazza, and sat for a time, or strolled about, listening to the music
of the band. Then all walked the short distance to the Royal Danieli,
and gathered in one of the smaller ballrooms, which Mr. Fairfield had
Some musicians played, and a delightful dance ensued. Patty always
enjoyed dancing, and treated quite impartially the many would-be
partners who begged to be favoured.
“Isn’t she a wonder?” said Caddy Oram to Peter Homer, as Patty waltzed
by with Floyd.
“The most sunshiny girl I have ever seen,” said Peter, gazing at
graceful Patty, who smiled back at him over Floyd’s shoulder.
The dance ended all too soon, and then the guests were ushered to the
dining-room, where a supper was spread on small tables.
“It would be a lovely party,” said Patty, “if it weren’t to celebrate
our last evening in Venice. That makes me sad.”
“It makes me heart-broken,” said Floyd; “Venice without you is as dust
and ashes. My soul is as a crushed cauliflower! Alack-a-day, and wae’s
“Come along with us,” said Patty, ignoring his show of grief. “The
Venetians will let you off, I’m sure.”
“That may be, madame. But I’ve affairs of more importance than trailing
an American girl all over the map of Europe.”
“I’d like to follow the trail,” said Peter Homer, “but I’ve been
summoned back to London, and ‘England expects.’”
“I wish I could take you all home with me,” said Patty,
enthusiastically; “you’re a lovely bunch of boys, and you’d grace any
“Thank ye, ma’am,” said Floyd, as they all bowed politely.
And when they took leave, the three declared that they would be on hand
next morning to conduct the Fairfield party to the railway station.
True to their word, they appeared in ample time to escort the
Several gondolas were required, and it somehow happened that Peter
Homer and Patty, with one or two trunks, occupied one of them alone.
“This is as it should be,” he said, in a tone of satisfaction. “I’m
glad to be with you as you see the last of Venice. But I hope we shall
meet here again sometime.”
“I hope so,” said Patty, carelessly. “I suppose I shall come
again,–everybody does,–but will you be here then?”
“Yes, if you call me. I’ll have to be here to guide your impressions in
the right channels.”
“Canals, you mean,” said Patty, laughing at his serious face.
“Very well, canals. You are an apt pupil. Tell me, now, what is Venice
like this morning?”
Patty looked around at the glowing scene. The autumn sunshine, the
crisp, fine air, the beauty of form and colour everywhere. Then she
“Liquid sunlight, streaming down, as if strained through a golden
“Rubbish!” cried Floyd, as, in another gondola, he drifted alongside.
“Where’d you get that padded plush sentiment, Patty?”
“Isn’t it poetic?” she said, turning to Peter, with a look of mock
“No,” he replied, “it’s forced and ridiculous, and you know it.”
“Yes, so I do,” said Patty, her face dimpling into smiles. “But you
always make me feel as if I ought to feel that way about Venice.”
“Oh, well, you’re so foolishly young, yet. But you’ll get over it.
Meantime, will you accept a tiny souvenir of the Grand Canal?”
Peter offered her a little gold gondola, of such exquisite workmanship
that Patty gave a cry of delight.
“It’s lovely!” she said. “Far too pretty for my ‘memory chain.’ I shall
hang it on my watchguard.”
She fastened it to the slender chain that held her watch, and smiled
her thanks at Peter.
“I shall always think of you when I see it,” she said; “and sometimes
when I don’t.”
“I shall often think of you,” he responded, “and shall look forward to
meeting you again sometime, somewhere.”
“Oh, come to New York,” cried Patty; “you are coming, aren’t you? And
we’ll have an Italian Days Reunion. Will you come, Floyd? And Flo?”
The other gondola had drifted near again, and all were gaily promising
to meet again in New York, when the quay of the railway station was
reached, and everybody scrambled out.
Then, in the general flurry of looking after luggage, and getting seats
in the train, there was no opportunity for further talk, but Peter
“May I write to you, Patty? And will you answer my letters?”
“Oh, indeed I will! I’d love to hear from you, and of course I’ll write
She gave him her card, and then after general farewells, intermingled
with much nonsense and laughter, the Fairfield family, with Flo and
Snippy, started for Rome.