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looked gloomy and shook their heads. Noth- the rescue, and disregarding a fluent, “ And ing really desirable was left, they said, abso- now the signorine will see the appartement lutely nothing. We had heard that sort of in the Casa Braccia, and the one in the Lung thing before, however, and quite undismayed Arno, and the two in the Della Scala,” gave set forth upon our quest, with maps and Guiseppe two francs and dismissed him with lists, and a little file of advertisements clip a suave “ Grazie," and a good morning. ped from the newspapers.

But half an hour after, as we were groping I dare say we bore our errand in our for the right bell at the dingy door of the faces. Still we have never been able to Casa Braccia, lo! a voice, a cringing depreaccount for the apparition of Guiseppe, wait- cating presence I there he was again, poping at the door to seize upon us. Guiseppe ping up from under the pavement, as it was porter of the hotel where we had stayed seemed, and for all we could do, he rang the awhile the year before. He had somehow bell, sped up stairs in front of us, and again scented our arrival, and there he stood,' the nods and becks and telegraphs were seedy and shabby as befits à porter out renewed, the view of Fiesole indicated, and of place, but with the old debonair bow all the artlessly artful game of finesse played and smirk, and ready to consecrate himself, off for our benefit. Nothing but the decihis time and talents to our service. We sive step of calling a cab and driving off at wished for none of them, but how to get rid full speed, rid us of our attached and emof the poor fellow, with his hungry smile barrassing follower. and voluble proffers of assistance ? Did we Guiseppe left behind, we ordered the want a first-floor? Did we want a second? coachman to proceed slowly, that we might Did we want sun, servants? He knew a keep a look-out for those affiches of soiled cook. He knew a maid of all work. He paper, which pinned to the ground-floor already had spoken of us to a washer- windows of houses, indicate rooms to let

He knew exactly what we wanted, overhead. The first which we spied bore whatever it was; nay, he himself was out of the words “ Ultimo piano" or top story, and service, was free to become our henchman if we groaned, for well we knew what that we so desired. “Do send him away,” whis- imported in the way of stairs. Nobody anpered the strong-minded of the party ; but swered the bell, but in a minute the door nobody had the heart to do so, and we opened of, itself, with an odd, jerking motion, endured his company up half-a-dozen long and admitted us to the stone-floored inner staircases, and his introduction to as many court. How little can any one at home imPadronas,” all of whom consulted his eyes agine the sort of entrance hall over which before stating their terms, and telegraphed Americans abroad are content to live. and winked behind our backs when they They are a happy mixture of cellar and thought we were looking the other way. dust-bin. They look like old, disused counEach appartement in turn, was exactly try post-offices, and they smell of fungus what we wanted, according to Guiseppe and and the middle ages. As we entered, holdthe Parlronas. Did the windows face north? ing up our skirts and hesitating, a voice Was the furniture insufficient? What would fell like a falling star from somewhere we have? with the inevitable shrug ; all above, and craning our necks backward, we windows could not ok to the south, and were aware of a dim silhouette bending besides, had the Signorine noticed the view over the third floor banister. Chi è?" of Fiesole? That view of Fiesole played a (who is it ?) ejaculated the voice, and we as prominent part in all our negotiations, so in duty bound, responded“ Amici” (friends). long as Guiseppe remained in our company. and prepared to ascend. It was expected to take the place of arm- Up and up and up, very dirty stairs, and chairs, of forks, of sunshine, to be worth very cold, being entirely of stone, to which five hundred francs a month, to atone for a coating of green and white paint simulatevil smells. This becoming intolerable at ing a carpet, failed to impart the slightest length, our strongest-minded of all came to warmth. Panting and out of breath we


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reached the last landing to find a little weaz- Padrona drew up the blind, and pointing to ened, anxious woman bowing and courtsey- the broad yellow ray on the sill, ejacuing and holding open a door. “ Rooms ? lated joyfully, “See, my ladies, the sun!” Ah, yes ? Sicuro! bellissimi! Enter, ladies, Alas, it would not do. The


Padrona enter.” Taught by experience, we tried to saw it in our looks. Her face fell. She. save time by preliminary parley. Were there looked so disappointed that just for her three bed-rooms in the appartement, four sake we were tempted to take the appartebeds, linen, silver, sun, a free kitchen, a room ment; only there are such numbers of old for a servant? “Sicuro, certamente, all, every- women in Italy, and three months' discomthing; come in ladies, come in !” absolutely fort is a very high price to pay for making magnetizing us with her appealing eyes. So only one of them happy. We looked about in we went, and groped our way along a dark again. No, it would not do. There were passage, the Padrona leading, till she opened but four spoons, three tea-cups and a half; a a door and revealed a minute, oblong closet, 'suspicious smokiness which seems incorporalmost entirely filled up by the narrow brick ated into the very substance of the diningshelf, which, in Italy, does duty for a room, told tales of the chimney. Finally, kitchen range. There were a few old sauce- some one declared that pink-and-pumpkin pans, a windlass and bucket for drawing in combination made her ill, and that the water from the yard below; that was all parlor-table would give us all nightmare. the furnishing, and I think only a very thin We edged toward the door. The Padrona's cook could have squeezed herself between smile grew weaker, but courtesy, the inalienthe shelf and the wall. The Padrona, how- able heritage of her country-people, did not ever, considered it lovely. She waved her fail her, and her “ Addio, my ladies,” was no hand and cried, “ Ecco ! ecco! la cucina !less musical because we had inflicted upon “ Here! here is the kitchen,” in quite a tri- her a disappointment;—not the first in her umphant voice. Then she showed us a closet life, poor soul, nor, I fear, the last.

I still smaller, which she said was the servant's Our next stop was at a door in the oldest bed-room, and opening beyond that, two part of Florence. An aged woman admitted chambers with dimity curtains, and windows us, and at her call came the Padrone a thin, looking into a narrow court. The Pailo courtly figure clad in a flowered silk dressrona's voice sounded a little faint as she as- ing-gown of antique pattern. Both he and sured us that at early morning, sun came in his servant seemed to date back to the time at these windows, “so warm, oh, so warm!” of the Medici, and the rooms under their and the tiny compass on D.'s watch chain charge were as much a part of the past as gave her the lie so decidedly, that I think they. Heavy curtains of old damask hung she finally felt with us that the less said over the doors. The windows, set high in on that subject the better.

the wall of the house, to protect its inmates Beyond the sleeping chambers was the from the musket shots of any adverse Guelph dining-room, beyond that a small salon. or Ghibeline who might chance to pass by, The walls of the salon were pink; its chairs could be reached only by means of a flight and table had spindling legs of gilt-and- of steps and a wooden inside balcony. white wood, and were covered with pump- Ascending these, one had the privilege of kin-colored satin, enlivened by a pattern in looking nay, on a bright day, might cabbage roses. Most of the space was åb- even see to read or to thread a needle. A sorbed by a monumental center-table, the camp-chair stood on one of these platforms. like of which none of us had ever seen be- The Padrone pointed to it with his forefore. Its base was stucco, representing rock- finger and a congratulatory smile. Here work and shells ; from this rose a conglom- was a modern improvement, the gesture eration of whales' tails and cupids supporting seemed to say–human beings and daylight a huge, round top of marbleized slate. A brought together on terms of equal comfort. tiny, bright blue stove with a pinched grate What more would we have ? occupied one corner of the salon. The Portraits, which time had merged into their backgrounds, stared dimly from tar- for the fact of their thus standing empty in nished frames. In the far-off concavities the very heart of the season. of the ceiling, appeared blurred figures of We visited rooms on the cold side of the cupids and genii, bright and distinct per- street, whose owners implored us almost haps in those by-gone days, when Machi- with tears to accept the thin streak of sunavelli or Michael Angelo were honored guests shine on the back windows, as ample for our beneath that roof. The very wood-box was needs. There were suites with a commiscovered with old tapestry, a fragment of sariat attached, which doubled the price of that which draped the walls of the dining- living; unfurnished suites, fabulously cheap, room, and set forth in a faded but appetiz- $200 perhaps for twelve and fourteen rooms; ing manner, the Massacre of the Innocents. suites over noisy piazzas teeming with omniThe lighting of this refectory was accom- buses and street bands, where sleep would plished by means of a hole, some three feet be an impossible thing and daytimes dissquare, cut near the ceiling. Faint cracks tracting. At last, and long though it sounds here and there in the frescoed walls, revealed the search occupied less time than this dethe existence of cupboards, opening in sur- scription-we lighted on the very thing which prising places, in chimney-jambs, at bed- we desired, the second floor of a house in the heads, or along the sides of windows. There bright modern quarter of Florence, within was a mysterious spiral stair-case, leading— a stone's throw of the Arno. It stood at the we could not divine whither. A faint odor of junction of three streets, which gave the ghosts and dead dinners pervaded all: the advantage of sunshine on three sides, and rustling of the old Padrone's silken gown an off-look in three different directions; and was like the rustle of leaves in the medita- happened to be vacant, because, luckily for tive autumn.

us, its owner had been unwilling in October “Don't you think it would be rather nice to let it for less than six months. Now, to sit here and think about Michael Angelo with the season one-third gone, she was and read up Florentine history?” asked the more reasonable, and we moved in at once. lover of the past.

There were six rooms in the suite, mak“ And how about rainy days, when we ing the side, one end and half the other don't want to think about Michael Angelo, side of a long parallelogram. The small and don't care a button for Florence history, kitchen opened into a corner dining-room, or anything else except keeping warm and from whose northern window we had a full comfortable ?” responded another voice, full view of the famous hill of Fiesole, a mosaic of the nineteenth century. Somehow the of vineyards, walled gardens, quaint roofs words swept us briskly toward the door. and groves of cypress, with dreamy blue The old Padrone drew his brocaded gown shadows checkering its outline, and the about him, and saw us depart with well- sombre pile of the Duomo and monasteries assumed indifference. It was all one to crowning the top. Beyond this was a large him, he stated. If he let the rooms, bene; salon, with four delightful windows east and if not, bene again.

south, from which we saw San Miniato, and I forget if it was next after this that we lovely Bellosguardo with its villas and farmwent to look at a palace to let, a whole palace, houses set in masses of freshest verdure. with a conservatory, a dozen drawing-rooms, Still beyond were three bed-rooms with full a library hung with ancestors, a chapel exposure to the south. A long, stone-paved with a presiding madonna. Then we had passage gave entrance to these chambers, a narrow escape from a charming apparte- and somewhere at the north end of the ment, whose only defect was a smell, a smell building, were more little rooms, in which which the Padrona assured us, was as the our Padrona, an English woman, dwelt. gales of Araby in its effects on the human She was an ex-ladies' maid, who, according system. We learned just in time, that only to a not infrequent practice among ladies' the year before, three persons had died of maids, had ended her career by marrying a diphtheria in these rooms, which accounted courier and retiring with him to his native


country. For thirty years she had let lodg- six volumes, our piles of literature were ings in Florence, but the cleanly traditions sometimes formidable. The library is very of her nation survived within her, and complete in works relating to Florentine art everything was exquisitely neat. The beds and history, and all subscribers have free and windows had snow-white curtains with access to the shelves, and can choose and frills and fringes. The toilet tables were cull, sip and sample, with no consulting of crisp with fresh muslin and ribbons, there catalogues or dry routine of red tape to were plenty of clothes presses and drawers, undergo. sofas, comfortable chairs, and such other Our week's supply of fuel had preceded luxuries as the Anglo-Saxon delights in. us—a pile of wood tied into fagots, baskets The Padrona dropped her h’s with true full of pine cones shining brown and seven British consistency still, and had trained inches long, and a heap of the odd-looking her husband to do the same. I shall never circlets which the Italians call forme, and forget that first evening, when, entering which exactly resemble slices of Boston with the lamps, he fired his broadside of brown bread. They are in reality pressed English at the head of the party as follows, sawdust, and costing but a franc a hundred,

a delivering himself in a rapid staccato, and make the cheapest of fires, though their never drawing breath till the end of the flame, hot while it lasts, is short lived. Not sentence: “Ow-are-you-mium? I-ope-you- to draw my picture without shadows, I must make-my-ouse-comfortable-1-am-very-pleas- here confess, that our first evening brought ing-oh-very-pleasing-to-ave-you-in-my-ouse; an agony of apprehension lest we should

_” and then vanished, leaving us to disen- never be able to warm the rooms. During tangle his meaning at our leisure.

their long disuse, the stone walls and floors In a wonderfully short time the new quar- had absorbed and now proceeded to give ters took on a look of home. Work boxes out a frosty cold, which seemed to chill the were unpacked, and portfolios, and sundry very marrow of our bones, and makes me photographs and Japanese pictures, much shiver now as I think of it. It took a day pin-holed about the corners, which had or two of fires to remove this, but after that enlivened many a bare wall for us since our we had no trouble about warmth, though journey began. Guide-books and inkstands our Parlrona thought us highly extravagant made their appearance, a vase or two, and as to fuel. She herself was too thoroughly presently some one ran out and came back Italianized to feel the need of fire except with a handful of wall-flowers and hya- for cooking purposes ; and on the coldest cinths which filled the room with garden days we would find her sitting in her north fragrance. Then some one else found time room with a brass saucer full of coals in her to drive down to Viesseux's, and came back lap, a “tidy” over her shoulders, her nose with a carriage load of books. That delight- very red and her fingers very blue, but proful Viesseux, how many hundreds of travel- testing that she was quite comfortable. ers every year are indebted to him for what A single day sufficed to set our houseis truly one of the chief pleasures of a stay keeping wheels in motion, and from that in Florence.

time on they revolved easily and withont His circulating library, which occupies the friction. Every morning at daylight came ground floor of a once famous palace, com- a brown contadinn, with the supplies of prises some seventy thousand volumes, milk, cream and butter for the day. A tall ancient and modern, and is placed at the flask, stopped with a twist of vine-leaf, held service of the public with a liberality which the milk, two small quaint boutes the cream, makes it doubly valuable. Our double the butter, freshly churned, made without abounement which cost 22 francs, covered salt, and in effect no more than solidified three months, and gave us the privilege of cream, was formed into tiny shell-shaped drawing eight books at a time, and chang- pats. Next, the English bakery sent its ing as often as we liked. Eight books ; and brown and white loaves, sweet and deas many of these consisted of three, four or licious. Bread, milk, cream and butter



cost, we reckoned, thirty cents a day for export; the best mandarini, tiny seedless our party of four. Once a week, another oranges, with an aromatic flavor as peculiar brown contadino left at our door a great in its way as the zest of a lime. We had also flask of chianti wine, with a wisp of tow learned the secret of Pane santo, a delicate tied over its slender neck, and a film of cake peculiar to Florence, and made in part golden oil floating on top to keep out air. of arrowroot; and the other secret of pan None of us cared for wine, but what alter- forti di Sienna. This is a conglomeration of native in a country where water, boiled and almonds, honey and chocolate, delicious as set aside to cool, shows a deposit of lime an pernicious, and is warranted to collect grandinch thick at the bottom of the carafe ? mothers of all nationalities round the pillows

Each afternoon, a tin box walked up our of those sleepers who partake of it at any stair on top of a man's head. It held our hour after sundown. dinner. The tralloria system is like the Our maid was a very tall Italian. She little girl, with the little curl right in the was so much too big for our kitchen that I middle of her forehead :

was always reminded of Gulliver in Lilliput. “When it is good it is very, very good,

Her name was Maria, but in private life When it is bad it is horrid."

she went by the name of "the giantess.” We were fortunate in our trattore. His “Pull the latch string, and the giantess will boxes held a wonderful deal, and things were fly out,” was the direction which we gave always hot. Smoking soup, a joint or chops our friends. There must once have been a or beefsteak with a vegetable, a fowl or hint of higher fortunes in Maria's fate, for birds with another vegetable, and a sweet she had been partially trained for the lyric dish of some sort, tart, jam pudding, blanc stage, and astonished us occasionally by mange or pancakes, with raspberry—such bursting into grand tragic arias over her was the daily ration, for which we paid dish-washing. We fancied she had proved ten francs a day. Always there was too stupid for her mètier, for she was almost plenty for a fifth person, if a friend hap- devoid of intelligence in anything which did pened to dine with us, and always enough not come into the routine of common work, to supply luncheon for next day. On special but we were never able to unravel the story. occasions we designated what we would Every morning at breakfast time, a wiry like, but generally the menu was left to the little old man with twinkling black eyes discretion of the trattore, and rarely did he came creeping up our stair-case, with a huge disappoint us. Salad, fruit, etc., we bought market-basket full of flowers on his arm. ourselves ; sometimes stopping for the pur. It makes me sigh with pleasure now to pose in the quaint, delightful markets, where think of those flowers. They were mostly old women, red capped and white capped, wild ones, but they did not seem so to us, sit in rows beside their many-colored wares, for they were of the kinds which we had and the chattering and jargoning is as con- been used to see growing in gardens-jonstant and musical as the notes of the busy quils, lilies-of-the-valley, tulips, narcissus, sparrows on the roofs over head; roofs field lilies, ranunculuses, splendid in every crowned with old lanterns and carved escut- shade of yellow and orange and deep red, cheons, which look quietly down on the busy clusters of roses, torn from the walls where scene beneath, just as they looked four they bloom all winter long, ivy sprays, lauhundred years ago, when Florence was in ristinas, irises, myrtle, and that oddly tinted its prime. But more frequently we resorted purple-black lily which is the emblem of to the shops, among which, according to the Florence. Later, he brought lilacs, fruit practice of housekeepers everywhere, we blossoms, anemones, purple, pink and scarsoon established preferences and favorites. let, long dropping boughs of wisteria flowBefore long we knew exactly where to turners and the delicious little Banksia rose. for all we needed — coffee, chocolate- All these delightful creatures would he pour knew who had the crispest lettuce, the best out on the table, and then would begin the figs—sun-dried and sweet; a fig unknown to most comical process of bargaining! The

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