It was a very rainy day, so the excursion which the Wonderers had
planned had to be postponed.
And so they were gathered in the Fairfields’ pleasant sitting-room,
trying to make believe they didn’t care to go out.
In this attempt they all succeeded better than Milly, who was
distinctly and aggressively cross.
“Milly,” said Peter Homer, in his kind way, after one of her petulant
outbursts, “it’s raining, and I’m glad it is, and you’re going to be
glad too. You’re going to have such a good time this afternoon, that
you’ll go home saying you’re glad it rained so we couldn’t go driving
out the Appian Way.”
“I won’t do any such thing,” declared Milly. “How could I like it
better to sit cooped up in a stuffy old parlour than to go for a lovely
“Wait and see, my child,” said Peter. “Now, my Wonder friends, I’ll
tell you my plan. Let’s start a paper, a nice little paper, and we’ll
“And publish it every week?” cried Patty, who loved to write things.
“Yes, for one consecutive week, anyway. I’ll be editor-in-chief,
and you can all be department editors, and choose any department
you like. If I were to suggest, I’d say let Patty Fairfield be the
fashion editor, for she always wears such masterpieces of sartorial
They all laughed at Peter’s description of Patty’s pretty frocks, and
“Well, I’m glad you didn’t call my clothes flubdubby, anyhow. Yes, I’ll
write your fashion column. What will you write, Milly?”
“I don’t know yet, but I’ll write something. Shall we do it now?”
The girl’s face had brightened wonderfully. Peter had discovered that
she had secret leanings toward literature, and he felt sure that his
plan for the afternoon’s amusement would appeal to her.
“Yes, we’ll begin at once,” he said. “If Patty can provide paper and
pencils. You may each have a half hour, and then must turn in your
copy, finished or not.”
Patty found plenty of stationery, and went about, distributing it to
“I can’t write a thing,” declared Flo, “but I’ll draw a picture. Is it
to be an illustrated paper?”
“It will be,” said Peter, “if illustrations are contributed.”
“I’ll do a Limerick,” said Caddy Oram. “I just love to do Limericks.”
“Let’s having missing line ones,” said Violet.
“All right, you do that kind then. Everybody can do just what he or she
“We must have the paper uniform,” said Patty, “so we can bind it all
“Yes,” said Lank Van Winkle, “then we’ll have typewritten copies made
for each of us.”
“If we want them!” put in Floyd. “I’m not sure this crowd can write a
volume worthy of undying fame.”
“Traitor! put him out!” cried Lank. “If he’s so weak-hearted, I’ll
write his contribution.”
“Weak-headed, you mean,” said Peter. “No, everyone must write his own.
Now, what shall we choose as a title for our paper?”
“Is it to be a humorous publication?” asked Floyd.
“Then listen, lend me your ears, and prepare to receive my suggestion
with thunders of applause, for I am about to offer you the best, and
indeed, the only title for the journal.”
“Huh,” said Lank, “if it’s the only one, you deserve little credit for
thinking of it.”
“Wait till you hear it,” said Floyd, undismayed. “If you don’t applaud,
I’ll know you don’t appreciate true cleverness. I propose, ladies and
gentlemen, that we call our weekly paper, the _Roman Punch_.”
He was indeed greeted with applause, and every one agreed that his
suggestion was the very thing.
“Then you see,” he went on, “we can model it after the London _Punch_,
only it will be funnier.”
Then they all set to work, and as no pretensions to real literary
excellence were expected, they rapidly scribbled a lot of nonsense.
Floyd finished first, and began bothering the others.
“I’ll help you, Patty,” he said, sitting down beside her.
“No, don’t speak to me. The depth of my subject requires concentration
of thought. You go away.”
So Floyd wandered over to Flo’s side, and criticised her drawing.
“Ho! ho! if I couldn’t draw better than that! Here, let me take your
But Flo only gave him a terrible frown, and he backed away, cowering in
But at last the half hour was up, and Peter announced that the
manuscripts must be handed in, whether finished or not.
“What luck!” cried Caddy Oram, who had been working diligently, “I’ve
just four lines of my Limerick done, so we can make a ‘missing line
contest’ of it.”
“Let’s call in father and Nan to hear the reading,” said Patty, “and
Flo, why don’t you invite Snippy, if she’d like to come?”
“Oh, she’ll adore to come,” said Flo, and ran in search of her
So the audience was increased by three, and then all sat in readiness
to hear the paper read.
Peter and Floyd had arranged the pages, and had added a sort of
introduction, and by unanimous invitation Peter was induced to read it.
So in his pleasant, deep voice he read:
“The _Roman Punch_. A journal written by members of the Wonderers’ Club
during their Roam in Rome.
“There may be further numbers and there may not. Subscription limited.
“The first selection is an exquisite poem by our popular poet, Mr.
Floyd Austin. You will notice the marvellous dexterity of his rhyming,
as well as the delicate beauty of his imagination. It is called:
“‘A RHYME OF A ROMAN
“‘An old Roman, known to no man,
Without friend and without foeman,
Without title or cognomen,
Is the subject of my pome.
And the Roman, never homin’,
Still is roamin’, still is roamin’,
In the dawn or in the gloamin’,
See him roam and roam and roam
All about the streets of Rome.’”
This effusion received great applause, until the modest poet hid his
face in his hands, quite overcome at the ovation.
“There’s something so tragic about it that it makes me weep,” said Nan,
wiping her eyes with her handkerchief.
“It’s the noble numbers that affect you, my dear,” said her husband.
“Grandeur of thought is always impressive.”
Floyd’s contribution made a great hit, and then Peter went on to read
“The next is a fine Limerick by Miss Violet Van Winkle. It throws light
on a hitherto mysterious subject, and it justifies what has often been
considered a cruel deed of a bloodthirsty emperor. I refer to the late
Mr. Nero, and his burning of his native town. The true facts of the
case are here set forth:
“‘“Well, yes,” said Tiberius Nero,
“I frankly admit I’m a hero.
But it wasn’t for ire
That I set Rome afire,–
The weather was quite down to zero.”’”
There was a moment of silence, and then Floyd said, slowly, “Oh, I see!
He kindled the fire to warm himself!”
“Yes,” said Violet. “It was a cold winter that year.”
“’Twas a chilly day for Nero, when the mercury went to zero,” said
Caddy; “but I say, was Nero’s name Tiberius too?”
“No,” said Violet, unabashed, “but it needed that to fill up the line
nicely. And anyway, it may have been. Those old Romans had lots of
names besides the ones they used every day.”
“Of course they did,” said Patty. “And I’m sure he was Tiberius
Nero,–it sounds so natural that way.”
“Next we come to a picture,” went on Peter. “This gem of art is the
work of our talented wonderer, Miss Flo Carrington. I will hold it up
that you may see it, but as its merit can only be appreciated by a
closer inspection, we will pass it around the circle. It represents
Miss Fairfield hugging her very dear friend, the Coliseum.”
Flo’s picture was really clever. Though only a slight sketch, it showed
a very good caricatured likeness of Patty. Her arms, abnormally long,
were embracing the Coliseum, which, with a happy smile, was enjoying
Patty declared she should keep the picture and have it framed, and Mr.
Homer said she might do so, after he had photographic prints made of it
for them all.
“The next,” continued Peter, “is a poem by our talented member,
Miss Milly Mills. This is a most creditable composition, and quite
appropriate to our paper. I think, to do it full justice, it should be
read by its author. Miss Mills, won’t you read your verses yourself?”
Flattered by Peter’s kind words, Milly took the paper and read her own
lines aloud. It was a really good, humorous jingle, and as Milly read
it, each of the others felt surprise that she could do such clever work.
“A ROMAN COIN
“There once was a queer Roman boy
(Though equally queer he would deem us!)
A nice child was he,
Born 40 B.C.
And named Regulus Romulus Remus.
“His queer and ridiculous garb
Was Roman from toga to sandal;
He ate for his lunch
Some cold Roman punch,
By the light of a large Roman candle,
“One day he had finished his meal,
And went for a walk in the Forum;
He made counter-marches
Beneath the big arches,
With banners and flags floating o’er em.
“When he found, lying right in his path,
A Roman coin called a denarius;
Dated 40 B.C.
He exclaimed, ‘Goodness me!
That’s the year I was born! How hilarious!
“‘I’m sure it will bring me good luck,
This coin, with its date, B.C. 40.’
And so he went roamin’
About in the gloamin’,
With his Roman nose held high and haughty.
“But stay! There’s a flaw in this tale,–
A coin of that date is peculiar!
I don’t think you’ll see ’em
In any museum,
I just told about it to fool yer!”
“Why, Milly,” cried Patty in delight, “I think that’s fine! I’d no idea
you were such a poet.”
“That isn’t poetry,” said Milly; “it’s just jingle.”
“And mighty good jingle,” said Nan. “But why was the coin peculiar?
Didn’t they have coins in 40 B.C.?”
“Oh, Nan,” said Mr. Fairfield, “stop and think! How could a coin be
_dated_ 40 B.C.?”
“I don’t see why not. Doesn’t that mean forty years Before Christ?”
“Yes, but B.C. is only used since A.D. began.”
“Oh, of course! I see. They didn’t use B.C. until the time meant by
B.C. had gone by!”
“Exactly that,” said Mr. Fairfield. “But, Milly, that’s a first-class
little jingle, and I think you’re in a fair way to become a
Milly blushed with pleasure at the compliment, and her face lost
entirely its usual discontented expression.
“So that’s her ambition,” thought Patty to herself. “I’ll have a good
talk with her about it when I get a chance. Perhaps I can help her.”
It was the delight of Patty’s life to help anybody, and she felt sure
she could aid Milly, if only by sympathetic interest in her literary
“Now,” went on Peter, “we’ll listen to some very wise wisdom from the
pen of our young American philosopher, Mr. Lancaster Van Winkle. He has
chosen to favour us with a collection of proverbs. I will read them,
for I know his natural modesty will make him too embarrassed to listen
to the sound of his own voice. The first gem of priceless wit is this:
“‘Rome is where the Art is.’”
At this punning, a general groan was heard from the audience.
“Cheer up,” said Peter, “worse is yet to come.”
“‘A Roman stone gathers no moss.’”
“I don’t see any sense to that,” remarked Flo.
“There isn’t any,” said Lank, amiably, “but it somehow sounded as if
there ought to be.”
“It _does_ sound so,” said Patty, encouragingly; “go on, Peter.”
“‘The Coliseum is the thief of time.’”
“That’s a good one! What next?”
“‘Where ignorance is bliss, ’tis folly to study guidebooks. One touch
of Baedeker makes the whole world kin. Tourists will happen in the best
regulated ruins. He who Romes and roams away, may live to Rome another
“I think they’re great!” said Floyd. “I want a copy of those.”
“Thank you!” said Lank, with a bow to his admirer.
“Now,” said Peter, “we come to a column of fashion notes, by our
esteemed friend, Miss Fairfield, who is an authority on the subject. I
will read it to you.
“‘Fall fashions for Rome. This season cabmen will continue to wear the
tattered and disreputable costumes which they have (apparently) worn
for the last decade.
“‘Tourists will wear short skirts, and a look of inquiry. Roman
citizens have discarded togas and tunics, and now wear any old thing.
Their appearance is not so picturesque as formerly.
“‘Americans and Britishers visiting in Rome will wear Roman sashes a
great deal this fall, as they think it gives them a touch of local
colour. They will also wear memory chains.
“‘Visitors who have already been to Naples, are wearing pink coral
“‘There is little change in the fashions for statues. As a rule these
people seem not to care much for clothing, and what they wear is scanty
of material and shows little, if any, trimming. The statues are not
wearing hats this year, and their styles of hair-dressing, though
picturesque, are a bit untidy.’”
“Good for you, Patty!” cried her father. “That’s good fooling, my
child. You may turn out a blue-stocking yet.”
“I don’t think so,” said Patty, doubtfully; “I had pretty hard work to
grind that out. I’m glad you like it.”
“It’s very waggish,” said Snippy, in such a matter-of-fact tone that
the others had to laugh.
“Now that’s real praise, Mrs. Snippy,” said Peter Homer.
As Flo’s governess objected to her own name, and preferred the funny
title Flo had given her long ago, the other young people compromised
by prefixing a Mrs., which seemed, at least, a little more respectful.
They had all grown to like the strong-willed and dictatorial old lady,
and her approval of the fun of the _Roman Punch_ pleased them.
“Now,” said Peter, “we come to the last contribution. It is the work of
the distinguished Englishman, Cadwalader Oram, better known as Caddy.
Indeed, he’s so fond of afternoon tea, I might call him Tea-Caddy.
Well, as he hadn’t quite finished his immortal Limerick verse when the
bell rang, we’ll call it a missing-line contest, and we’ll all have a
try at it. Have you a prize, Patty, that can be given to the successful
“That’s the beauty of Rome,” said Patty. “You do nothing but collect
articles that are just right for prizes. I’ll have enough to last me
all the winter for card-parties and such things at home. Here, I’ll
give you this little model of the Temple of Saturn, in Parian marble.”
“Pooh, we’ve all got those already,” said Violet, “and anyway, they
break if you look at them.”
“You must give softer glances, then,” said Austin. “But, Patty,
something a little less ubiquitous would suit me better too.”
“Well, here’s a little silver statuette of St. Peter,” said Patty.
“A whole lot better! I’ll try hard to win that.”
“But I don’t understand the contest part,” said Patty; “what do we do?”
“Why, Caddy has written four lines of a Limerick,” explained Peter.
“I’ll read those,–you may jot them down if you like. Then, each tries
to write a fifth line, and whichever is judged the best gets the prize.”
“Who’s the judge?”
“Well, I’ll appoint Mrs. Fairfield and Mrs. Snippy to judge the
efforts. Now, listen; here are the first four lines:
“‘There was a young tourist from home,
Who Baedekered all over Rome.
Said a lady, “My dear,
Do you like the things here?”’
Now, you see you must each make a fifth line.”
“Oh, that’s easy,” said Milly, who was a born rhymer.
They all sat silently for a few moments, scribbling, or nibbling, at
“It’s harder than I thought,” confessed Patty. “I can’t think of a
thing that rhymes and makes sense both.”
At last the lines were done, and given over to the judges.
“We’ve decided,” said Nan, soon after. “But we’ll read first the ones
that did not win the prize. They’re all awfully good, I think. Here’s
Patty’s first; shall I read the four lines?”
“No, we all know those; just read the fifth.”
“Very well, this is it. ‘She said, _not_ when they say “write a pome!”’”
“That’s capital. Are the others better?”
“Some are,” said Nan, going on. “Here’s Floyd Austin’s; ‘She said,
“Well,–I have bought a pearl comb.”’”
“Oh, I think that’s good,” cried Patty, “I’d give that the prize. Go
on, Nan, this is fun.”
“This is Flo’s. ‘“Well,”’ she said, ‘“it surpasses Cape Nome.”’”
“That’s all right! Next!”
“Here’s Lancaster’s: ‘She said, “All except St. Peter’s Dome!”’”
“Whew! I suppose she tried to climb it,” said Caddy. “I did once!”
“This is a good one,” said Nan; “it’s Violet’s; it _almost_ took the
prize: ‘She said, “No, I like our Hippodrome!”’”
“Oh, that’s fine!” cried Patty, clapping her hands. “Why didn’t I think
of that? It was so hard to find a rhyme.”
“But here’s the prize one. It’s Milly’s. I think you’ll have to yield
her the palm for composition. I’ll read the whole this time.
“‘There was a young tourist from home,
Who Baedekered all over Rome.
Said a lady, “My dear,
Do you like the things here?”
She looked up and answered, “Why, no’m.”’
You see, this fits into the spirit of the first part so well. You can
fairly see the young tourist bored to death, tired, hurried, flurried,
dazed, with sight-seeing, but bound to go on with it; why should she
like things here? Oh, Milly, yours is best.”
Most of them agreed with this, and though Flo and the two Van Winkles
secretly thought Milly’s line rather commonplace, they didn’t say so.
Then the pretty prize was bestowed on Milly, and her eyes shone with
pleasure and justifiable pride in her own success.
And when the party broke up she said to Mr. Homer:
“I’ve had a lovely time, and I’m _glad_ it rained, and we couldn’t go
“That’s a good girl,” he responded, “and I’m jolly glad you took the
prize, and we’ll have that drive yet, too.”
It was the day before the Fairfields were to leave Rome.
Patty and Peter Homer sat on one of the upper flights of the Spanish
Steps, waiting for Flo and Snippy, who were in a neighbouring shop.
The beginning of the sunset hour cast a warm, happy light, and Patty,
who was very sensitive to the peculiar charms of this most delightful
part of Rome, was gazing at the beautiful staircase that seemed to
ripple down from the Church of Trinita dei Monti to the fountain below.
Peter had called her attention before to the construction of these
steps, and she had learned to love the wonderful effect as they
separated and joined again, like a cascading river.
“Why is it that steps are so beautiful?” she said to Peter, who was
also enjoying the view.
“Not exactly because they are steps,” he replied. “A flight of stairs
is not necessarily beautiful. But when designed by a master mind, with
knowledge of architectural effect and symmetry, they can be made to
express a great deal. But don’t try too hard to understand, just look
at it all, and wonder.”
“I do. And I shall always remember this, my last afternoon in Rome,
sitting here in the sunset—-”
“With me,” interrupted Peter.
“Yes, with you. I have to thank you for much of my pleasure in Rome.
Without what you have told me and taught me, I should not have known
anything about the real Rominess of Rome.”
“You don’t know much about it yet, nor do I. But we’ve seen a little of
it together, and I, too, shall always remember our good times here.”
“Very frivolous times. What a lot of fun we’ve had with our foolish
picnics and games.”
“Yes; but you know Italy of itself is not a humorous country. Whatever
fun one gets out of it, one must take to it.”
“I wonder you’re so fond of fun,” said Patty, musingly, “when you’re so
“What! I? Sentimental? Never! I’m the most practical man in the world.”
“Oh, yes, you’re practical enough, but you’re sentimental, too.”
“And aren’t you?”
“I don’t know. No, I don’t think I am.”
“I don’t think you are, exactly, either. But I think you will be some
day. And as a beginning, couldn’t you cultivate a little sentiment
Patty looked around her,–at the gold and violet sunset sky above
them, the sparkling fountain plashing below them, the soft twilight
atmosphere about them, and the Roman monuments both near and far,–and
“If I ever could be sentimental, it would be here and now.”
“Nonsense!” cried Peter. “I don’t want you to be sentimental! Save that
for Venice. Child, don’t you know the difference between sentiment and
“No,” said Patty, in surprise, “is there any?”
“You’re hopeless! Doesn’t this exquisite moment, here and now, inspire
you with impulses of noble sentiment quite removed from mawkish
“I don’t know,” said honest Patty. “What sentiment ought I to feel?”
“Oh, I don’t want to suggest. Look in your own heart, and tell me if
there’s no pleasant thought there, for this especial moment,–and for
Patty shut her eyes tight, and pondered.
“Yes,” she said, triumphantly, “I know what you mean. I looked in my
heart, and it’s overflowing with a sentiment of gratitude for your
kindness to me.”
For once Patty saw Peter Homer look positively angry.
“You ought to be ashamed of yourself,” he exclaimed; “or, rather, I
ought to. I should know better than to expect a child like you to have
any real feelings.”
“I’m not a child!” said Patty, offended in her turn. “I’m over
eighteen, and I’ve lots of real feeling, but as you don’t seem to care
for it, I won’t waste it on you!”
Peter laughed at the indignant look on Patty’s pretty face, and
said, gaily: “You’ve plenty of time, little one. Your sentiments are
sprouting, and they’ll grow rapidly enough, once they’re started. Thank
Heaven, your sense of humour will keep them from growing too rank. Now,
soothe my wounded feelings by telling me you’ve a nice kind sentiment
of friendship sprouting in your heart for me.”
“Sprouting! Why, my friendship for you sprouted long ago. Now, it’s
grown to a big tree, and on every leaf is written a kindly thought of
“Ah, you _have_ imagination; and that’s closely akin to sentiment. Dear
little Patty, I wish I could teach you to see life as I’ve taught you
to see Rome.”
Patty looked up quickly, surprised at the note of earnestness in his
voice, and found Peter’s dark eyes looking steadily into her own.
“I wish you could,” she said, simply, as her own clear blue eyes
frankly returned his gaze.
“Being desirous of making the acquaintance of the pretty girl on the
steps, the wayfarer sat down beside her,” declaimed the ridiculous
voice of Floyd Austin, as he appeared before them, and dropped down on
the step beside Patty.
“Why, Floyd,” she cried, “I didn’t see you coming. Where have you been?”
“Seeing Rome, and hoping I’d see you, which, by good luck I did. What
are you two babes in the wood doing here all alone?”
“Waiting for Flo and Snippy. They’re in that shop over there, buying
“Um,–yes. Don’t you care for photographs?”
“I’ve bought all I can carry, already. I shall have to use them for
wall paper, when I get home. It would take a Maine forest to frame them
“I saw a room papered with photographs once,” said Peter. “They were
divided by narrow mouldings, you know, but the pictures were pasted
right on the walls.”
“Wasn’t it horrid?” asked Patty.
“Awful. Photographs in great quantities are awful, anyhow. But, while
we’re on the subject, won’t you give me one of yourself? To hang on my
memory chain, you know.”
“I’d ask for one too,” put in Floyd, “but I’ve seven of you already,
Patty. Snapshots, but good ones.”
“I don’t see why he should have seven, and I none,” said Peter, in a
“I’ll give you one,” said Floyd, generously.
“No, thank you,–I don’t want it. But what I do want, Patty, is to take
a snapshot of you, right now, here on the Spanish Steps.”
“You’ve no camera,” said Patty.
“I can get one in a minute, in that photograph shop. They keep all
sorts, and I’ll just borrow one long enough to take you. May I?”
“Yes, if the light’s good enough. I don’t care,” said Patty,
Peter looked at her curiously, and then went off for the camera.
“Having achieved his heart’s desire, the young man tripped gaily away,”
said Floyd, mischievously smiling at Patty.
“Here comes Flo,” cried Patty, as Snippy and her charge appeared, laden
with long pasteboard rolls. “Now we can all be in the picture.”
“So we can!” said Floyd. “Homer will be _so_ pleased!”
Mr. Homer returned with his camera to find a group ready posed for him.
Floyd had arranged them, and Snippy sat on one step, with her arms
outspread in a classic attitude, while the two girls stood demurely
with clasped hands on either side, a step below. Floyd, above and
behind, held out one hand with beneficent gesture, and in the other was
a long pasteboard roll, which he used as a trumpet.
“It’s an allegorical group,” he announced, “of ‘Fame blessing a bunch
Entering into the spirit of the thing, Peter focussed his camera,
and secured what afterward turned out to be a delightfully ludicrous
“Now,” said Peter, in the tone he used when he had no intention of
being contradicted, “I will take a picture of Patty alone.”
“All right,” said Flo, not caring, and she turned away to talk to Floyd
“Lean lightly against the balustrade,” said Peter, as Patty stood
carelessly on the steps. She fell into the position he had suggested,
and against the background of innumerable steps, above, below, and on
either side, the girlish figure stood out in fair relief. The white
serge frock, with its graceful long coat opening over a soft white
blouse, was a becoming style to Patty, and suited well the scheme of
the picture. Her soft, white, felt hat, turned back from her ripply,
gold hair, and a filmy white Liberty scarf trailed from it, and
fluttered over her shoulder. She was the embodiment of quiet, graceful,
American girlhood, and the picturesque Roman surroundings accented her
Peter Homer held his breath as he adjusted the camera.
“Don’t move,” he begged; “it’s perfect.”
“I’ve no intention of moving,” said Patty, calmly; “take your time.”
It was one of the girl’s best traits that she was never self-conscious;
and so she was never embarrassed at posing for a picture. In fact, she
rather enjoyed it, as she was fond of photographs of all sorts.
“All over,” announced Peter Homer, as he snapped the camera for the
last time. “Now, if you people will wait till I take this machine back
to its home, I’ll invite you all to tea right here and now.”
“Goody!” cried Patty; “I’m starving, and they have the loveliest cakes
in this tearoom of all Rome.”
Snippy was graciously pleased to accept the invitation, and soon they
were gathered round a tea table, and Patty had all the cakes she
“When can we see the pictures?” asked Flo.
“As soon as I can get them developed. You may each have copies of
that stunning classic group you posed in, but the landscape of Miss
Fairfield is all for my little own self.”
“Can’t I have one?” asked Patty.
“No, madame. They are not for general circulation.”
“Pooh!” said Patty, “I don’t want a picture of myself, anyway. I’d
rather have one of you.”
“I’ll send you one,” said Peter, quietly.
“Not being members of the picture exchange, the other guests turned
their attention to tea and muffins,” said Floyd, in a resigned way, as
he appropriated more muffins, and begged Snippy to pour him another cup
“It doesn’t seem possible,” said Flo, “that we’ve been here over a
month; does it, Patty?”
“No, indeed, seems more like a week. Oh, I know I shan’t like Florence
as well as Rome, and then, too, all you boys won’t be there. I do love
boys,” said Patty, contemplatively, as she broke a bit of frosting off
her cake and gazed at the two young men before her.
“Thank you, old lady,” said Floyd. “And do you class this stalwart
gentleman and myself among your beloved ‘boys’?”
“Oh, I don’t know. I suppose you _are_ too old to be called boys; but
anyway, you’re the ones I meant. You and Lank and Caddy. Why, I’m so
used to having you all bothering around, I’ll be awfully lonesome in
Florence, I know I shall.”
“You’ll have me,” said Flo. “I’m nice.”
“Yes, you are. And perhaps we’ll have more fun without the boys. ‘They
do tease so,’ as _Alice_ said about the elephants.”
Patty’s roguish smile contradicted her speech, and both men knew it.
“Don’t be so sure you won’t see us in Florence,” said Floyd. “My ticket
is most accommodating; isn’t yours, Homer?”
“No,” said Peter, shortly. “At least it doesn’t include Florence among
“I’m sorry,” said Patty, gently. “I’d be glad to see you there. Are you
really coming, Floyd?”
“I don’t know yet. How long shall you be there?”
“About a fortnight, I think. Perhaps longer. It depends on how father
and Nan like it.”
“Yes, and I. But I’m so good-natured I always agree with them.”
“That’s a good one!” said Floyd, “when it’s well known that you’re the
dictator of the Fairfield Forum.”
“Only when I care,” said Patty, “and I don’t often care.”
“Well, I care that you’re going away,” said Floyd, “and I shall follow
you, if possible, as soon as I can.”
The Fairfields were to leave Rome for Florence at ten o’clock in the
morning, and Flo and Snippy were to go with them. Patty’s regret at
leaving Rome was somewhat lessened by her father’s promise that they
should return there for a week or two after visiting Florence and
“For you know, Father,” she said, “I really ought to come back here and
brush up my memories of Roman history, before going back home.”
“Yes,” agreed Mr. Fairfield, “particularly as your knowledge of Roman
history is confined to picnics in the Forum, lunches on the Palatine,
and tearooms on the Spanish Steps.”
“Well, I do know a few important facts about the Roman Emperors; and if
I get them mixed up, that’s because there were so many of the Emperors
and so few of me.”
“You’re a frivolous puss, Pattykins, but as you’re on a pleasure trip,
I don’t suppose you can take time for useful information.”
“But that’s just what I do get. Dusty, musty, fusty knowledge about the
inner workings of the Roman Empire isn’t a bit useful to a great, big
girl like me. And the varied bits of information that I pick up with
both hands as I go along will cheer and amuse me all my life.”
“I believe you’re right, you wise child. You know how to have a good
time, anyway, and I’m glad of it. Now, run along, and say your good-bys
to that flock of young people waiting for you.”
Patty was all ready to start on their journey, and her travelling
costume of blue Rajah silk that just matched her eyes was both
appropriate and becoming. Her straw hat was trimmed with blue roses,
which, though not of Nature’s tint, were most harmonious, and she wore
a long filmy blue veil, which was a characteristic article of her
“Why do you always have these uncertain things trailing around you,
Patty?” asked Floyd, as an end of the veil brushed against his cheek.
“Oh, they’re so comforting,” laughed Patty, as she disentangled her
scarf from his grasping fingers.
The Wonderers had gathered in the palm garden to say good-by to Patty.
Milly Mills was in tears, for Patty had been very kind to her, and the
strange, silent girl had learned to love her dearly.
“I wonder what we’ll do without our Patsy,” said Violet, as she
caressed Patty’s hand.
“Follow her up,” said Lank, promptly. “I’ve been trying to persuade
the governor to go on to Florence, and though he says no, he’s sort of
half-hearted about it. Perhaps you can coax him ’round, sister.”
“Perhaps I can,” said Violet, smiling hopefully. “I’ll try anyway. And
if not, we’ll meet in New York, won’t we, Patty?”
“Yes, indeed. We’re going to have a reunion there some day, and all the
Wonderers will walk on Broadway and Fifth Avenue, hunting for something
to wonder at.”
“And finding it, too!” said Lank. “We’ll show Europeans that little old
U. S. A. is O. K.”
“Sounds like a riddle,” said Caddy Oram. “But I’m going to the States
some day, and indeed we will have a reunion. If we can’t have the
whole eight at once, we’ll reune, a few at a time.”
“Do come,” said Patty, cordially; “all of you, whenever you can.”
Then they all exchanged addresses, and promised to write letters, and
send pictures, and meet whenever possible, and then the hotel omnibus
was at the door to take the travellers to the station.
“Come, Patty,” said her father, as she lingered for a last word
to Milly, “you’ll make us all miss the train if you spin out your
farewells any longer. Hop in, now.”
He helped Patty into the omnibus, jumped in himself, and then they
were off, leaving the young people and Mr. and Mrs. Van Winkle waving
handkerchiefs after them.
“Isn’t it funny?” said Flo, after they were settled in their chairs in
the train, and rolling toward Florence, “how, as soon as you leave one
place, your mind flies ahead to the place you’re going to?”
“Yes, it is,” agreed Patty. “Now, I just love Rome, and I love that
whole bunch of people we’ve left behind us, but I’m already wondering
what Florence will be like. What’s it like, Snippy?”
“Well, Miss Patty, it isn’t a bit like Rome, to begin with.”
“No; I suppose not. There are no ruins.”
“No, miss; but there are beautiful gardens, and pictures and statues
till you ’most wear your poor eyes out.”
“Yes, and break the back of your neck. Picture galleries are worse than
quinsy sore throat.”
“But that’s in front,” said Flo, laughing. “Pictures make you ache in
the back of your neck.”
“They make me ache all round,” declared Patty. “I love ’em, but they
wear me out.”
“Oh, Patty,” cried Flo, “look at the orchards with the trees tied
together! Isn’t it lovely?” Patty looked from the window at the thick
ropes of grapevines which festooned one tree to another in the orchards
past which their train was flying.
“Great!” she exclaimed, her eyes shining at the beautiful sight. “They
look like the Alpine travellers, who are roped together for safety.”
“Nonsense,” said practical Flo, “what’s the use of roping yourselves
together if you’re standing still? They’re not moving.”
“Well,” said Patty, “our train goes so fast that it makes them look as
if they were moving; so it’s well they’re tied together.”
“You’re a goose,” remarked Flo, as if that settled the matter. “I say,
Patty, isn’t this a funny car?”
“I suppose it is to you,” said Patty, looking around at the
drawing-room car they were in.
“It’s unusual in Italy, I’m sure, and I never saw one like it in
England; but it’s exactly like the parlour-cars we have in America.”
“Is it? Well, I like it a lot better, like this, where we’re all in one
room, and can see our fellow passengers, than to be shut up in those
little compartments and only see our own party.”
“Yes,” said Patty, doubtfully; “but the other way is more cosy. I’ve no
desire to see my fellow travellers, have you?”
“Yes; I like to look at them, and wonder what they’re like. For
instance, see those two young Italian men, over there. I’m sure they’re
nobles, counts probably. Aren’t they handsome?”
“Flo Carrington, you stop looking at handsome young Italians or I’ll
call Snippy’s attention to you.”
“Oh, they don’t know I’m looking at them.”
“Don’t they, indeed! Well, they do, and you must stop it.”
“I have stopped,” said Flo, looking out of the window. “But aren’t they
They were handsome young fellows, and had an air of dignity such as
might well befit an Italian noble. Flo and Patty demurely refrained
from glancing at them, save for a furtive glance now and then, but Flo
declared she must make a sketch of them. She undertook it, but the
train jolted too much to make drawing a pleasure, so she abandoned the
project. Soon the guard came through, asking for those who wished to
lunch in the dining-car, and tickets were given for seats at table.
“I perfectly love to eat on an Italian train, don’t you?” said Patty,
as they found their places for luncheon.
“Yes, I do,” said Flo, “except I don’t like the spaghetti and things
they love to eat.”
“Oh, I do. And I’m sure when I get home I can cook macaroni in true
Italian fashion, and delight all my friends.”
“It wouldn’t delight me, I hate it. But I love the fruit.” And well she
might, for the rich luscious fruits of Italy are surpassed nowhere on
the globe, and they are bestowed on travellers in unstinted quantities.
Mr. and Mrs. Fairfield sat at one of the tables arranged for two, while
Snippy and the two girls sat at a quartette table.
As there was thus a vacant seat, another passenger was assigned to it,
and to the surprise and secret glee of the girls it was one of the
young Italian men they had noticed in the other car.
Flo and Patty looked down at their plates in an effort not to smile
at each other, and Snippy glared at the young man as if he were an
Presently he made a civil remark in Italian, and as Snippy was able to
talk fluently in that tongue, she answered him, politely, but rather
“Doesn’t he speak English at all?” said Patty, with great interest.
“No,” said Snippy, sternly, “eat your luncheon and don’t look at him.”
“Good gracious!” said Patty, secure in the knowledge that the stranger
couldn’t understand her, “I don’t want to look at him. But I just
want to know if he’s a count. Do ask him, Snippy dear. Flo thinks he
is–and I think he isn’t.”
“Well, he isn’t, Miss Patty. He’s a soldier.”
“A soldier! How interesting. Can’t we talk to him a little, Snippy,
with you to translate, you know.”
Snippy hesitated. The young man was exceedingly polite and well-bred,
and had already asked if the young ladies spoke Italian. Even her
careful instincts could suggest no reason why they should not converse,
with herself as interpreter.
So, in very conventional language she introduced Signor Grimaldi to
her two young charges, and he bowed with the ease and grace of a
“Ask him where he’s going,” said Patty, who knew that Snippy would
frame the question less curtly.
A few words of Italian passed between them, and then Snippy informed
the waiting ears that the Signor was going to Florence.
“What hotel?” asked Flo, and the information was soon gained that he
was going to the same hotel that they were themselves.
“Heavenly!” said Patty, rolling her eyes, dramatically. “Tell him we’re
enchanted, and that we think he’s a lovely man, and that he looks as
if he had just stepped out of a comic opera, and that—-”
“There, there, Miss Patty, how you do run on. I shall tell him none of
those things. He’s a very chivalrous gentleman, and I don’t want him to
think you a forward young person.”
“He can’t think anything about me, Snippy, except what you tell him. So
tell him I’m a lovely lady,–a duchess, disguised as an American.”
“He’d never take you for a duchess, Patty,” said Flo; “tell him I’m a
duchess, Snip, and that this other young woman is my maid.”
“I’ll tell him nothing; I’m ashamed of your foolishness, Miss Flo.” And
Snippy proceeded to eat her luncheon with such a dragon-like air that
the Italian soldier wondered what he had done to deserve reproof.
Presently he spoke again to Snippy, regarding the scenery, and to make
amends for her previous coolness she answered him affably. Then there
ensued an interested conversation, for Snippy was a cultivated and
well-informed woman, and the young man was courteous and entertaining.
Besides which, he was greatly attracted by the two pretty girls and
wished the duenna would bring them into the conversation.
“The young ladies,–have they visited Florence before?” he asked
finally, in Italian, and Snippy felt in honour bound to pass the
question on in English to eager Patty and Flo.
“We must answer prettily,” said Patty, with a demure face, though her
eyes were dancing, “or else Snippy won’t let us talk to him at all. Say
to the Signor, please, that we have never before been in Florence, and
does he think we’ll like it.”
Snippy sniffed a little, but translated the message to the Italian.
“The Signor says,” she translated again, “that he is sure you will like
Florence and Florence will like you.”
“Remark to him,” went on Patty, “that we thank him for his politeness,
and we’d like to know if the gentleman who was with him in the other
car is travelling with him, and what is his noble name.”
“The other gentleman is with him. His name is Signor Balotti, and he
too is a soldier.”
“Then,” put in Flo, “inquire of his soldiership why they are not
“He says,” resumed Snippy, “that they do not fight because there is
no convenient war. But he does not regret that, since it gives him
opportunity to meet three charming ladies.”
“Oh, Snippy-Snip,” said Patty, “are you sure you’re translating truly?
Didn’t he say one charming lady, and two ill-mannered girls.”
“If he didn’t, it’s only because he is himself too polite to say so,”
said Snippy, but there was a twinkle in her eye, and Patty could see
that she had quite decided in favour of the young man’s desirability as
They all rose from the tables then, and Snippy introduced the Italian
to Mr. Fairfield. Though not fluent in the language, Mr. Fairfield
could make himself understood, and while the ladies returned to the
drawing-room car, he remained behind for a smoke and a chat with the
When he returned, he electrified the two girls and Nan by telling them
that Signor Grimaldi was a very desirable acquaintance indeed, as was
also his chum, Signor Balotti. The men had arranged to meet them again
in Florence, and would doubtless be a decided acquisition to their
“I told you so!” said Patty. “I knew he was the salt of the earth as
soon as I looked at him.”
“Pooh, I told you so first,” said Flo. “But I wish he could talk
English. I don’t care much about knowing people I can’t talk to.”
“Nor I,” said Patty. “I hope we will find some Americans or English at
They reached Florence about mid-afternoon, and drove directly to their
hotel, on the bank of the Arno.
“What a lovely river!” said Patty. “At least it’s clean. The Tiber is
so yellow, and so is the Thames. The Seine isn’t much better,–indeed
none of them can compare with our own Hudson.”
“But this whole place is beautiful,” said Flo, as they looked from
their cab on the trees and gardens of beautiful Florence.
The day was very warm, and there was a glare of sun everywhere, so
our travellers were glad to reach their hotel and go right to the
apartments awaiting them.
Flo and Patty had communicating rooms, and had soon exchanged their
travelling costumes for teagowns and were waiting for the tea which
they had ordered sent up.
They peeped out between the slats of their blinds, and saw the river
directly below them.
“Isn’t it picturesque?” said Patty. “I love it already. After an hour
or so, father says it will be cool and pleasant for a drive, so we’ll
see a little of the place this afternoon.”
“Lovely,” said Flo, “but here’s our tea, Patty, so come and drink it.”
The first night that Patty spent in Florence she awoke about midnight,
thinking she heard music.
“I must have been dreaming,” she said to herself, and then, again, she
heard lovely strains, as of some one singing outside her window.
She jumped up and ran to peep through the blinds. Sure enough a small
crowd of people stood in the white roadway that divided the hotel from
the river, and four men were singing beautiful music. The others were
passers-by, who had stopped to listen, and who stood about or sat on
the low parapet.
“I’m being serenaded!” thought Patty; “it must be by those two Italian
Flinging on a kimono, she flew into the next room to wake Flo.
“Get up!” she cried, shaking the sleeping girl. “Get up! Signor
Vaselino, or whatever his name is, is serenading us!”
“What?” murmured sleepy Flo.
“Oh, get up, you slow thing! Get up first, and understand afterward.
Here’s your dressing-gown,–here are your slippers. Put your foot in!”
Jamming the worsted slippers on Flo’s bare feet, Patty gave her one
more shake and succeeded in fully wakening her.
They went to Flo’s window, and opening the blinds, stepped out on the
It was a perfect night. Although the first of October, it was warm and
balmy, and the great full moon cast a golden glow on the smooth water
of the Arno.
The four men who were singing wore picturesque Italian costumes, and
their broad-brimmed hats, turned up with feathers, gave the effect of a
comic opera chorus.
The bright moonlight made the shadows of the people clear and distinct
along the white road, and the river, with the buildings rising on its
other bank, was a perfect background.
“Isn’t it great!” whispered Patty, squeezing Flo’s arm. “Do you suppose
it’s our Italian friend that we met on the train?”
“No, you goose,” said Flo, laughing. “This isn’t a serenade especially
for us. They’re professional singers, and they’re serenading the whole
hotel. See the other people on their balconies.”
Sure enough every room in the hotel that had its own balcony showed its
occupants standing out there to enjoy the music. And windows that had
no balconies were thrown wide open, and faces appeared at each.
“Well,” said Patty, “this is a nice country, where the opera singers
give free concerts at midnight.”
“They’re not entirely free,” said Flo, who seemed to know more about
the matter than Patty. “Observe what now happens.”
The song came to an end, and after flourishing bows, the quartette
stood expectantly waiting. Soon something was thrown from a window,
and, as it fell in the road, one of the singers stooped for it, and
then they all bowed again.
It was a coin flung by one of the hotel guests, and it was quickly
followed by others, until the singers were all four scrambling on the
ground picking up the coppers and small silver bits that had rained
down upon them. Sometimes a coin was flung wide of the mark, and this
was picked up by the idle bystanders and usually given to one of the
Then they sang again, and this time Patty ran for her purse, to take
part in the recognition of the music. After this song, she and Flo
threw down coins too, and it was great fun to watch the musicians pick
them up. Probably from much practice they were very deft at this, and
as the hotel was a large one and well filled with people, they reaped a
fine harvest. At last, having doubtless noticed American voices among
their audience, they sang Yankee Doodle, though a very much Italianised
version of that classic composition. However, it struck a patriotic
chord, and from many of the hotel windows American voices joined in the
chorus. After this tribute to her native land, Patty flung down all her
small change, and finally the minstrels wandered away to serenade some
“Wasn’t that fun?” said Patty, as she and Flo returned to their rooms.
“I think Italians must be very honest people, or the others would have
taken the money instead of the singers.”
“Perhaps they did,” said Flo, “or some of those others may have been
friends of the singers who picked up the money for them.”
“Well it’s a pretty trick,” said Patty, “much nicer than hand-organs, I
“Yes, or street pianos,” agreed Flo; “and now if you’ll kindly go back
where you belong, I’ll return to my own slumbers, and don’t wake me up
again to-night, if the United States Marine Band comes over to give a
“Indeed I won’t, you ungrateful creature; I’ll just enjoy it all by
So Patty went back to bed and slept until the sun shone high over the
Arno, in place of the moon.
The weeks in Florence passed rapidly, it seemed to the two girls. Each
day Patty grew to love the beautiful city more.
“It goes along so smoothly,” she said to Nan, one day. “In Rome we were
always flying around after some excitement, but Florence days just flow
by, all exactly alike.”
“Why, Patty, I think our days are varied a great deal,” replied Nan,
who was tying her veil, and was devoting most of her attention to that.
“No, they’re not. We always go to picture galleries in the morning.
And shopping or for a drive in the gardens in the afternoon, and then
dinner takes up most of the evening. But I like it; I’m not complaining
at all. And I’m learning heaps about pictures. I didn’t know I could
learn so much just by looking at them. Why, some of my favourites, I
almost feel as if I had painted myself.”
“It must be fine to have such a good opinion of yourself,” laughed Nan.
“Where are you going this morning?”
“Oh, Snippy’s laid aside with a headache, and as you and dad are going
off on an excursion, he said Flo and I might go out with Carlo.”
“Well, have a good time. We’ll be back by tea time, so be in the palm
room by five. Some people are coming.”
Nan ran away to go off on a day’s jaunt with her husband, and Flo and
Patty put on their hats to go for a drive with Carlo.
This very useful Italian citizen was a well-trained guide, who had been
recommended to Mr. Fairfield by an old friend. Carlo was experienced
in all styles of sight-seeing, and moreover was trusty and reliable in
every way. So Mr. Fairfield allowed Flo and Patty to go with him to
galleries and museums, and Carlo proved a most satisfactory cicerone
and chaperon. To-day the cab came to the door and Carlo assisted the
two girls into it.
“Where to, ladies?” he asked, as he stood at attention.
“Oh, I don’t know,” said Patty; “we’ve seen ’most everything. Where
shall we go, Flo?”
“To Dante’s House,” was the prompt reply. “We haven’t seen that.”
“All right,” said Patty; “to Dante’s House, Carlo.”
“Non, ladies, non,” was the unexpected reply. “To the great
galleries? yes. To the great monuments? yes. To the gardens? yes.
But to a house–a so plain, uncertain house–which in maybe Dante
was born,–maybe no,–no, we do not go to Dante’s house. It is a
Patty laughed. She well knew Carlo’s dictatorial ways, and if he didn’t
think Dante’s House worth seeing, it probably wasn’t.
“I don’t care, Carlo,” she said, “go where you like. It’s a lovely
morning, and I’m so amiable I’d follow anybody’s advice. You don’t
care; do you, Flo?”
“Not a bit. Let’s leave it to Carlo.”
“Then, ladies, I take you once again to the Baptistery. I wish you to
look again at the bronze doors of Ghiberti.”
“Go ahead,” said Patty. “I know those doors by heart; I know what
Michael Angelo said about them, and I have both sepia and coloured
postcards of them. But go on, we can’t have too much of the bronze
Carlo, though he spoke English, was not always quick enough to grasp
the whole of Patty’s raillery, but he saw she was willing to follow his
advice, so he took the seat beside the cabdriver, and they rumbled away.
When they reached the Baptistery, they stood in front of the great
doors, and listened patiently while Carlo repeated the meanings of
the designs. It was owing to these repeated descriptions of Carlo’s
that Patty was acquiring a really good appreciation of painting and
sculpture, and though she mildly chaffed the good-natured guide, she
listened thoughtfully to his lectures.
“You’re a fine guide, Carlo,” she said; “you told all that exactly as
you told it last time. I think you’re the best guide in all Florence.”
“Oh, no, lady,” said Carlo, with a gesture of deprecation. “Verra pore
guide. I simply do my best to serve the kind patrons who honour me. I
speak but only eight of the languages.”
“Only eight?” exclaimed Patty, in a teasing tone, for she well knew
this was mock modesty, and Carlo was really proud of his linguistic
“Yes; eight. It is but few.”
“Oh, well, it will do for us,” said Patty; “I only know one, myself.”
“That is enough for a lady,” said Carlo, so gallantly that Flo and
“You know a lot of languages, Carlo,” Patty said, “and better than
that, you can be tactful in all of them.”
“Ah, I am a Florentine,” said Carlo, bowing, with native pride in his
birth that he scorned to admit in his acquirements. “But, ladies,
here comes a so good opportunity. A bambino–a baby–is arriving for
baptism. We will go in and observe the ceremony.”
“We will, indeed,” said Patty. “I’ve always just missed it, before.
Come on, Flo.”
Inside the Baptistery they went and found a priest and a few officials
gathered around the font.
With great interest they watched the baptism of the tiny three-days’
old infant. The little one was carried by its father, and accompanied
by a nurse and an Italian lady, presumably an aunt or other relative.
The child was robed in a grand conglomeration of laces, ribbons,
jewelry, and swathed in voluminous outer wrappings.
After the short ceremonial was over, the girls lingered to look at
the mosaics in the choir, a study in which Patty was taking a great
As they stood there Patty heard a voice over her shoulder, addressing
her in Italian. She turned, and saw the Italian soldier, Signor
Grimaldi, accompanied by his friend Balotti.
They had not seen these men since the meeting on the train, and they
had wondered what had become of them.
“Oh, Signor, how do you do?” cried Patty, quite forgetting that he
couldn’t understand her.
But he understood the smile and gesture and shook hands cordially with
Patty and Flo, and then presented Signor Balotti.
This introduction was in Italian but the girls assumed its intent, and
smiled pleasantly at both men, though at a loss how to continue the
“We can talk through Carlo,” said Patty, with a sudden inspiration.
“What’s the use of his eight languages if he can’t help us out in a
case like this? Carlo, these are two friends of ours, but they can’t
speak English, nor we Italian, so you must act as interpreter. See?”
“Yes, lady,” said Carlo, a little hesitatingly. “They are your before
“Oh, yes,” said Patty, laughing at his air of caution; “we met them
on the train coming from Rome. At least we met Mr. Grimaldi, and were
properly introduced. Ask him why he hasn’t been to see us.”
Reassured, Carlo talked to the young men, and translated back and forth
for the benefit of both sides. It seemed that the Italians had mistaken
the name of the hotel where the Fairfields were, and had not been able
to find them, they themselves being at a different one.
“But I spik a very small Angleesh,” volunteered Signor Balotti,
timidly, and the girls turned to him in delight.
“Oh, do you?” said Flo. “Then you can help us all out.”
So they chatted away, and as each only understood about a quarter of
what the other said, the conversation was mostly laughter and gestures.
At last with the help of Carlo the young men conveyed to the girls an
invitation to visit some certain of the Royal apartments in the Pitti
Palace, which are not usually shown to visitors.
The idea appealed to Carlo, who wanted his patrons to see all that they
could, but he hesitated about accepting the escort of these handsome
“Oh, yes, we’ll go,” cried Patty, after she learned of the invitation;
“don’t be a goose, Carlo, you’re worse than Snippy! I’ll take the
responsibility, and I’ll tell father all about it, and he’ll say,
‘Bless you, my children.’ Come on, Flo.”
Then turning to Signor Balotti, she smiled, and said:
“Si, signor, we will go avec pleasure.”
The polyglot sentence was not very intelligible, but the smile was, and
Carlo allowed himself to be persuaded to carry out the plan.
Their cab was dismissed, and a larger carriage called, which would hold
the four, and again Carlo climbed to the seat beside the driver, and
they were off.
Conversation was now difficult, but that made it only more interesting.
“Where do you live?” asked Patty, choosing a simple question as a
This Signor Balotti understood, but his reply was entirely
unintelligible, and as Patty didn’t care where they lived, she gave it
“The Boboli gardens are very beautiful,” volunteered Flo, willing to do
her share to break a silence that might become embarrassing.
“Boboli? No–not this hora,” said Balotti, with a regretful smile.
“Goodness!” said Flo, “he thinks I’m asking him to take us there, and
he says not at this hora. That’s hour, isn’t it, Patty?”
“Yes. She doesn’t mean we want to go there, but that it is
“Si,” responded Balotti, repeating, without understanding.
“So pretty, you know,” Patty floundered on; “so green and trees, and
flowers,–flora,–gracious, Flo, what is Italian for flowers, you ought
“I don’t,” said Flo; “but, look this way!” and Flo sniffed vigorously
at an imaginary bouquet. Her dramatic instinct was so strong that
her meaning was quite evident, and one could almost imagine she had
beautiful flowers in her hands.
“Si, Si, Si!” exclaimed the gallant Balotti, and with an order in
Italian for the driver to stop, he sprang from the carriage and flew
over to a neighbouring flower stand. He returned with two huge nosegays
which he bestowed upon the girls, with a voluble flow of Italian
“Oh, Patty,” said Flo, blushing with mortification, “he thinks we asked
him for flowers!”
“Si, si, _flowers!_” said Balotti, beaming with pleasure at having
gratified the wishes of the young ladies.
To Patty’s surprise Carlo took the flower episode calmly, and she
concluded that a gift of flowers in Italy must mean even less than in
“Yes,” said Carlo, when she asked him this; “yes, the Signori mean to
present the compliments they cannot speak, by means of the so beautiful
“Thank them very much,” said Patty, “they are most kind.”
But her own smiling bows of appreciation were quite as welcome to the
gallant Balotti as Carlo’s expressed thanks.
And now gloom settled on the handsome face of Signor Grimaldi.
“He wants that he too,” said Balotti.
This seemed obscure, at first, but the discontented expression helped
Patty’s quick wit, and she exclaimed, “Oh, Mr. Grimaldi wants to give
us flowers also?”
“Yes,” said Balotti, “or–or another.”
“Yes,” said Flo, assisting him, “or something else. Well, Patty, we
must accept another gift,–I see that clearly. What do you suggest that
we can take with propriety, and thus bring smiles to Grimaldi’s face as
well as Spaghetti’s, I mean Balotti’s?”
Patty looked about on either side.
“Postcards!” she exclaimed, as she saw a vendor with his tray.
“Just the thing!” cried Flo. “Tell him, Carlo, that the young ladies
would be overjoyed to receive the gift of half a dozen postcards each.”
Carlo translated this, and Signor Grimaldi’s face broke into wide
smiles as he sprang in his turn from the carriage.
“Tell him only a half dozen, Carlo,” warned Patty, for Grimaldi’s
enthusiasm betokened his buying the whole tray, and sending the man for
But he obeyed Carlo’s strict orders, and returned, bringing Flo and
Patty each six of the most celebrated monuments of Florence.
The girls made charming protestations of gratitude and appreciation of
this courtesy, and the drive continued. The two Italians, pleased with
their own performances, seemed content to sit and beam pleasantly for
the remainder of the way, and soon they were at the portals of the
As the young men had promised they were able to show them through some
magnificent Royal apartments, rarely shown to strangers, and where even
Carlo himself had never been before.
The sights were most interesting, and after a pleasant hour spent
there, they all drove back to the hotel. The Italian gentlemen took
leave, and through the interpretations of Carlo, Patty asked them to
return late in the afternoon and take tea with them, and this the young
men readily promised to do.