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Chapter 27

Chapter 35

Chapter 12

"The doctor told me that whenever I wanted to sta--(whistle) sta--(whistle) sta--(whistle) am-mer, I must whistle; and I did, and it k--(whistle) k- (whistle) k- (whistle) k- ured me entirely!"

Our children and the neighbors' children played well; easily, comfortably, naturally, and with high spirit. How was it that they were able to do this? It was because they had been in training all the time from their infancy. They grew up in our house, so to speak, playing charades. We never made any preparation. We selected a word, whispered the parts of it to the little actors; then we retired to the hall where all sorts of costumery had been laid out ready for the evening. We dressed the parts in three minutes and each detachment marched into the library and performed its syllable, then retired, leaving the fathers and mothers to guess that syllable if they could. Sometimes they could.

Villa Quarto(Continued)To get to that corner room with its bookcase freighted with twenty dollars' worth of ancient Blackwood and modern spiritualistic literature, I have passed through--undescribed--a room that is my bedroom. Its size is good, its shape is good--thirty feet by twenty-two. Originally it was fifty feet long, stretching from one side of the house to the other, in the true Italian fashion which makes everybody's bedroom a passageway into the next room--kings, nobles, serfs, and all; but this American countess, the present owner, cut off twenty feet of the room and reattached ten feet of it to the room as a bathroom, and devoted the rest to a hallway. This bedroom is lighted by one of those tall glass doors, already described, which give upon the terrace. It is divided across the middle by some polished white pillars as big as my body, with Doric capitals, supporting a small arch at each end and a long one in the middle; this is indeed grandeur and is quite imposing. The fireplace is of a good size, is of white marble, and the carvings upon it are of the dainty and graceful sort proper to its age, which is probably four hundred years. The fireplace and the stately columns are aristocratic, they recognize their kinship, and they smile at each other. That is, when they are not swearing at the rest of the room's belongings. The front half of the room is aglare with a paper loud of pattern, atrocious in color, and cheap beyond the dreams of avarice. The rear half is painted from floor to ceiling a dull, dead and repulsive yellow. It seems strange that yellow should be the favorite in Europe whereby to undecorate a wall; I have never seen the yellow wall which did not depress me and make me unhappy. The floor of the room is covered with a superannuated nightmare of a carpet whose figures are vast and riotous and whose indignant reds and blacks and yellows quarrel day and night and refuse to be reconciled. There is a door opening into the bathroom, and at that same end of the room is a door opening into a small box of a hall which leads to another convenience. Those two doors strictly follow the law of European dwellings, whether built for the prince or for the pauper. That is to say they are rude, thin, cheap planks, flimsy; the sort of door which in the South the negro attaches to his chicken coop. These doors, like all such doors on the Continent, have a gimlet handle in place of a door knob. It wrenches from the socket a bolt which has no springs and which will not return to that socket except upon compulsion. You can't slam a door like that; it would simply rebound. That gimlet handle catches on any garment that tries to get by; if tearable it tears it; if not tearable it stops the wearer with a suddenness and a violence and an unexpectedness which break down all his religious reserves, no matter who he may be.The bedroom has a door on each side of the front end, so that anybody may tramp through that wants to at any time of the day or night, this being the only way to get to the room beyond, where the precious library is bookcased. Furniture: a salmon-colored silk sofa, a salmon-colored silk chair, a pair of ordinary wooden chairs, and a stuffed chair whose upholstery is of a species unknown to me but devilish; in the corner, an ordinary thin-legged kitchen table; against one wall a wardrobe and a dressing bureau; on the opposite side a rickety chest of drawers made of white pine painted black and ornamented with imitation brass handles; brass double bedstead. One will concede that this room is not over-embarrassed with furniture. The two clapboard doors already spoken of are mercifully concealed by parti-colored hangings of unknown country and origin; the three other doors already mentioned are hooded with long curtains that descend to the floor and are caught apart in the middle to permit the passage of people and light. These curtains have a proud and ostentatious look which deceives no one, it being based upon a hybrid silk with cotton for its chief ingredient. The color is a solid yellow, and deeper than the yellow of the rearward half of the walls; and now here is a curious thing: one may look from one of these colors to the other fifty times, and each time he will think that the one he is looking at is the ugliest. It is a most curious and interesting effect. I think that if one could get himself toned down to where he could look upon these curtains without passion he would then perceive that it takes both of them together to be the ugliest color known to art.We have considered these two yellows, but they do not exhaust the matter; there is still another one in the room. This is a lofty and sumptuous canopy over the brass bedstead, made of brilliant and shiny and shouting lemon-colored satin--genuine satin, almost the only genuine thing in the whole room. It is of the nobility, it is of the aristocracy, it belongs with the majestic white pillars and the dainty old marble fireplace; all the rest of the room's belongings are profoundly plebeian, they are exiles, they are sorrowful outcasts from their rightful home, which is the poorhouse.On the end wall of the yellow half of the room hang a couple of framed engravings, female angels engaged in their customary traffic of transporting departed persons to heaven over a distant prospect of city and plain and mountain.The discords of this room, in colors, in humble poverty and showy and self-complacent pretentiousness, are repeated everywhere one goes in the huge house.I am weary of particulars. One may travel two hundred feet down either side of the house, through an aimless jumble of useless little reception rooms and showy corridors, finding nothing sane or homelike till he reaches the dining room at the end.On the next floor, over the Blackwood library, there is a good bedroom well furnished, and with a fine stone balcony and the majestic view, just mentioned, enlarged and improved, thence northward two hundred feet, cut up in much the same disarray as is that ground floor. But in the midst is a great drawing-room about forty feet square and perhaps as many high, handsomely and tastefully hung with brocaded silk and with a very beautifully frescoed ceiling. But the place has a most angry look, for scattered all about it are divans and sofas and chairs and lofty window hangings of that same fierce lemon-colored satin heretofore noted as forming the canopy of the brass bedstead downstairs. When one steps suddenly into that great place on a splendid Florentine day it is like entering hell on a Sunday morning when the brightest and yellowest brimstone fires are going.I think I have said that the top floor has twenty rooms. They are not furnished, they are spacious, and from all of them one has a wide and charming view. Properly furnished they would be pleasant, homelike, and in every way satisfactory.End of March. Now that we have lived in this house four and one-half months, my prejudices have fallen away one by one and the place has become very homelike to me. Under certain conditions I should like to go on living in it indefinitely. Indeed, I could reduce the conditions to two and be quite satisfied. I should wish the owner to move out of Italy; out of Europe; out of the planet.I realize that there is no way of realizing this and so after two and a half months I have given it up and have been house hunting ever since. House hunting in any country is difficult and depressing; in the regions skirting Florence it leads to despair, and if persisted in will end in suicide. Professor Willard Fiske, the scholar, who bought the Walter Savage Landor villa fourteen or fifteen years ago, tells me that he examined three hundred villas before he found one that would suit him; yet he was a widower without child or dependent and merely needed a villa for his lone self. I was in it twelve years ago and it seemed to me that he had not bought a villa, but only a privilege--the privilege of building it over again and making it humanly habitable. During the first three weeks of February I climbed around over and prowled through an average of six large villas a week, but found none that would answer, in the circumstances. One of the circumstances, and the most important of all, being that we are in Italy by the command of physicians in the hope that in this mild climate Mrs. Clemens will get her health back. She suddenly lost it nineteen months ago, being smitten helpless by nervous prostration complicated with an affection of the heart of several years' standing, and the times since this collapse that she has been able to stand on her feet five minutes at a time have been exceedingly rare. I have examined two villas that were about as large as this one, but the interior architecture was so ill contrived that there was not comfortable room in them for my family of four persons. As a rule the bedchambers served as common hallways, which means that for centuries Tom, Dick, and Harry of both sexes and all ages have moved in procession to and fro through those ostensibly private rooms.Every villa I examined had a number of the details which I was ordered to find; four possessed almost every one of them. In the case of the four the altitudes were not satisfactory to the doctors; two of them were too high, the other pair too low. These fifteen or twenty villas were all furnished. The reader of these notes will find that word in the dictionary, and it will be defined there; but that definition can have no value to a person who is desiring to know what the word means over here when it is attached to an advertisement proposing to let a dwelling house. Here it means a meager and scattering array of cheap and rickety chairs, tables, sofas, etc., upholstered in worn and damaged fragments of somber and melancholy hue that suggest the grave and compel the desire to retire to it. The average villa is properly a hospital for ailing and superannuated furniture. In its best days this furniture was never good nor comely nor attractive nor comfortable. When that best day was, was too long ago for anyone to be able to date it now.Each time that I have returned from one of these quests I have been obliged to concede that the insurrection of color in this Villa di Quarto is a rest to the eye after what I had been sighing and sorrowing over in those others, and that this is the only villa in the market so far as I know that has furniture enough in it for the needs of the occupants. Also I will concede that I was wrong in thinking this villa poverty-stricken in the matter of conveniences; for by contrast with those others this house is rich in conveniences.Some time ago a lady told me that she had just returned from a visit to the country palace of a princess, a huge building standing in the midst of a great and beautiful and carefully kept flower garden, the garden in its turn being situated in a great and beautiful private park. She was received by a splendid apparition of the footman species, who ushered her into a lofty and spacious hall richly garnished with statuary, pictures, and other ornaments, fine and costly, and thence down an immensely long corridor which shone with a similar garniture, superb and showy to the last degree; and at the end of this enchanting journey she was delivered into the princess's bedchamber and received by the princess, who was ailing slightly and in bed. The room was very small, it was without bric-a-brac or prettinesses for the comfort of the eye and spirit, the bedstead was iron, there were two wooden chairs and a small table, and in the corner stood an iron tripod which supported a common white washbowl. The costly glories of the house were all for show; no money had been wasted on its mistress's comfort. I had my doubts about this story when I first acquired it; I am more credulous now.A word or two more concerning the furnishings of the Villa di Quarto. The rooms contain an average of four pictures each, say two photographs or engravings and two oil- or water-color paintings of chromo degree.High up on the walls of the great entrance hall hang several of those little shiny white cherubs which one associates with the name of Delia Robbia. The walls of this hall are further decorated, or at least relieved, by the usual great frameless oval oil portraits of long-departed aristocrats which one customarily finds thus displayed in all Florentine villas. In the present case the portraits were painted by artists of chromo rank, with the exception of one. As I have had no teaching in art, I cannot decide what is a good picture and what isn't, according to the established standards; I am obliged to depend on my own crude standards. According to these the picture which I am now considering sets forth a most noble, grave, and beautiful face, faultless in all details and with beautiful and faultless hands; and if it belonged to me I would never take a lesson in art lest the picture lose for me its finished, complete, and satisfying perfection.* * * * * *We have lived in a Florentine villa before. This was twelve years ago. This was the Villa Viviani, and was pleasantly and commandingly situated on a hill in the suburb of Settignano, overlooking Florence and the great valley. It was secured for us and put in comfortable order by a good friend, Mrs. Ross, whose stately castle was a twelve minutes' walk away. She still lives there, and had been a help to us more than once since we established relations with the titled owner of the Villa di Quarto. The year spent in the Villa Viviani was something of a contrast to the five months which we have now spent in this ducal barrack. Among my old manuscripts and random and spasmodic diaries I find some account of that pleasantly remembered year, and will make some extracts from the same and introduce them here.When we were passing through Florence in the spring of '92 on our way to Germany, the diseased-world's bathhouse, we began negotiations for a villa, and friends of ours completed them after we were gone. When we got back three or four months later, everything was ready, even to the servants and the dinner. It takes but a sentence to state that, but it makes an indolent person tired to think of the planning and work and trouble that lie concealed in it. For it is less trouble and more satisfaction to bury two families than to select and equip a home for one.The situation of the villa was perfect. It was three miles from Florence, on the side of a hill. The flowery terrace on which it stood looked down upon sloping olive groves and vineyards; to the right, beyond some hill spurs, was Fiesole, perched upon its steep terraces; in the immediate foreground was the imposing mass of the Ross castle, its walls and turrets rich with the mellow weather stains of forgotten centuries; in the distant plain lay Florence, pink and gray and brown, with the rusty huge dome of the cathedral dominating its center like a captive balloon, and flanked on the right by the smaller bulb of the Medici chapel and on the left by the airy tower of the Palazzo Vecchio; all around the horizon was a billowy rim of lofty blue hills, snowed white with innumerable villas. After nine months of familiarity with this panorama, I still think, as I thought in the beginning, that this is the fairest picture on our planet, the most enchanting to look upon, the most satisfying to the eye and the spirit. To see the sun sink down, drowned on his pink and purple and golden floods, and overwhelm Florence with tides of color that make all the sharp lines dim and faint and turn the solid city to a city of dreams, is a sight to stir the coldest nature and make a sympathetic one drunk with ecstasy.Sept. 26, '92.--Arrived in Florence. Got my head shaved. This was a mistake. Moved to the villa in the afternoon. Some of the trunks brought up in the evening by the contadino--if that is his title. He is the man who lives on the farm and takes care of it for the owner, the marquis. The contadino is middle-aged and like the rest of the peasants--that is to say, brown, handsome, good-natured, courteous, and entirely independent without making any offensive show of it. He charged too much for the trunks, I was told. My informant explained that this was customary.Sept. 27.--The rest of the trunks brought up this morning. He charged too much again, but I was told that this also was customary. It is all right, then. I do not wish to violate the customs. Hired landau, horses, and coachman. Terms, four hundred and eighty francs a month and a pourboire to the coachman, I to furnish lodging for the man and the horses, but nothing else. The landau has seen better days and weighs thirty tons. The horses are feeble and object to the landau; they stop and turn around every now and then and examine it with surprise and suspicion. This causes delay. But it entertains the people along the road. They came out and stood around with their hands in their pockets and discussed the matter with one another. I was told they said that a forty-ton landau was not the thing for horses like those--what they needed was a wheelbarrow.I will insert in this place some notes made in October concerning the villa:This is a two-story house. It is not an old house--from an Italian standpoint, I mean. No doubt there has always been a nice dwelling on this eligible spot since a thousand years B.C., but this present one is said to be only two hundred years old. Outside, it is a plain square building like a box, and is painted a light yellow and has green window shutters. It stands in a commanding position on an artificial terrace of liberal dimensions which is walled around with strong masonry. From the walls the vineyards and olive orchards of the estate slant away toward the valley; the garden about the house is stocked with flowers and a convention of lemon bushes in great crockery tubs; there are several tall trees--stately stone pines--also fig trees and trees of breeds not familiar to me; roses overflow the retaining walls and the battered and mossy stone urns on the gateposts in pink and yellow cataracts, exactly as they do on the drop curtains of theaters; there are gravel walks shut in by tall laurel hedges. A back corner of the terrace is occupied by a dense grove of old ilex trees. There is a stone table in there, with stone benches around it. No shaft of sunlight can penetrate that grove. It is always deep twilight in there, even when all outside is flooded with the intense sun glare common to this region. The carriage road leads from the inner gate eight hundred feet to the public road, through the vineyard, and there one may take the horse car for the city, and will find it a swifter and handier convenience than a sixty-ton landau. On the east (or maybe it is the south) front of the house is the Viviani coat of arms in plaster, and near it a sun dial which keeps very good time.The house is a very fortress for strength. The main walls--of brick covered with plaster--are about three feet thick; the partitions of the rooms, also of brick, are nearly the same thickness. The ceilings of the rooms on the ground floor are more than twenty feet high; those of the upper floors are also higher than necessary. I have several times tried to count the rooms in the house, but the irregularities baffle me. There seem to be twenty-eight.The ceilings are frescoed, the walls are papered. All the floors are of red brick covered with a coating or polished and shining cement which is as hard as stone and looks like it; for the surfaces have been painted in patterns, first in solid colors and then snowed over with varicolored freckles of paint to imitate granite and other stones. Sometimes the body of the floor is an imitation of gray granite with a huge star or other ornamental pattern of imitation fancy marbles in the center; with a two-foot band of imitation red granite all around the room, whose outer edge is bordered with a six-inch stripe of imitation lapis-lazuli; sometimes the body of the floor is red granite, then the gray is used as a bordering stripe. There are plenty of windows, and worlds of sun and light; these floors are slick and shiny and full of reflections, for each is a mirror in its way, softly imaging all objects after the subdued fashion of forest lakes.There is a tiny family chapel on the main floor, with benches for ten or twelve persons, and over the little altar is an ancient oil painting which seems to me to be as beautiful and as rich in tone as any of those old-master performances down yonder in the galleries of the Pitti and the Uffizi. Botticelli, for instance; I wish I had time to make a few remarks about Botticelli--whose real name was probably Smith.The curious feature of the house is the salon. This is a spacious and lofty vacuum which occupies the center of the house; all the rest of the house is built around it; it extends up through both stories and its roof projects some feet above the rest of the building. That vacuum is very impressive. The sense of its vastness strikes you the moment you step into it and cast your eyes around it and aloft. I tried many names for it: the Skating Rink, the Mammoth Cave, the Great Sahara, and so on, but none exactly answered. There are five divans distributed along its walls; they make little or no show, though their aggregate length is fifty-seven feet. A piano in it is a lost object. We have tried to reduce the sense of desert space and emptiness with tables and things, but they have a defeated look and do not do any good. Whatever stands or moves under that soaring painted vault is belittled.Over the six doors are huge plaster medallions which are supported by great naked and handsome plaster boys, and in these medallions are plaster portraits in high relief of some grave and beautiful men in stately official costumes of a long-past day--Florentine senators and judges, ancient dwellers here and owners of this estate. The date of one of them is 1305--middle-aged, then, and a judge--he could have known, as a youth, the very creators of Italian art; he could have walked and talked with Dante, and probably did. The date of another is 1343--he could have known Boccaccio and spent his afternoons yonder in Fiesole gazing down on plague-reeking Florence and listening to that man's improper tales, and he probably did. The date of another is 1463--he could have met Columbus, and he knew the Magnificent Lorenzo, of course. These are all Cerretanis--or Cerretani-Twains, as I may say, for I have adopted myself into their family on account of its antiquity, my origin having been heretofore too recent to suit me.But I am forgetting to state what it is about that Rink that is so curious--which is, that it is not really vast, but only seems so. It is an odd deception, and unaccountable; but a deception it is. Measured by the eye it is sixty feet square and sixty high; but I have been applying the tape line, and find it to be but forty feet square and forty high. These are the correct figures; and what is interestingly strange is that the place continues to look as big now as it did before I measured it.This is a good house, but it cost very little and is simplicity itself, and pretty primitive in most of its features. The water is pumped to the ground floor from a well by hand labor, and then carried upstairs by hand. There is no drainage; the cesspools are right under the windows. This is the case with everybody's villa.The doors in this house are like the doors of the majority of the houses and hotels of Italy--plain, thin, unpaneled boards painted white. This makes the flimsiest and most unattractive door known to history. The knob is not a knob, but a thing like the handle of a gimlet--you can get hold of it only with your thumb and forefinger. Still, even that is less foolish than our American door knob, which is always getting loose and turning futilely round and round in your hand, accomplishing nothing.The windows are all of the rational continental breed; they open apart, like doors; and when they are bolted for the night they don't rattle and a person can go to sleep.There are cunning little fireplaces in the bedrooms and sitting rooms, and lately a big, aggressive-looking German stove has been set up on the south frontier of the Great Sahara.The stairs are made of granite blocks, the hallways of the second floor are of red brick. It is a safe house. Earthquakes cannot shake it down, fire cannot burn it. There is absolutely nothing burnable but the furniture, the curtains, and the doors. There is not much furniture; it is merely summer furniture--or summer bareness, if you like. When a candle set fire to the curtains in a room over my head the other night where samples of the family slept, I was wakened out of my sleep by shouts and screams, and was greatly terrified until an answer from the window told me what the matter was--that the window curtains and hangings were on fire. In America I should have been more frightened than ever, then, but this was not the case here. I advised the samples to let the fire alone and go to bed; which they did, and by the time they got to sleep there was nothing of the attacked fabrics left. We boast a good deal in America of our fire departments, the most efficient and wonderful in the world, but they have something better than that to boast of in Europe--a rational system of building which makes human life safe from fire and renders fire departments needless. We boast of a thing which we ought to be ashamed to require.This villa has a roomy look, a spacious look; and when the sunshine is pouring in and lighting up the bright colors of the shiny floors and walls and ceilings there is a large and friendly suggestion of welcome about the aspects, but I do not know that I have ever seen a continental dwelling which quite met the American standard of a home in all the details. There is a trick about an American house that is like the deep-lying untranslatable idioms of a foreign language--a trick uncatchable by the stranger, a trick incommunicable and indescribable; and that elusive trick, that intangible something, whatever it is, is just the something that gives the home look and the home feeling to an American house and makes it the most satisfying refuge yet invented by men--and women, mainly women. The American house is opulent in soft and varied colors that please and rest the eye, and in surfaces that are smooth and pleasant to the touch, in forms that are shapely and graceful, in objects without number which compel interest and cover nakedness; and the night has even a higher charm than the day, there, for the artificial lights do really give light instead of merely trying and failing; and under their veiled and tinted glow all the snug coziness and comfort and charm of the place is at best and loveliest. But when night shuts down on the continental home there is no gas or electricity to fight it, but only dreary lamps of exaggerated ugliness and of incomparable poverty in the matter of effectiveness.Sept. 29, '92.--I seem able to forget everything except that I have had my head shaved. No matter how closely I shut myself away from draughts it seems to be always breezy up there. But the main difficulty is the flies. They like it up there better than anywhere else; on account of the view, I suppose. It seems to me that I have never seen any flies before that were shod like these. These appear to have talons. Wherever they put their foot down they grab. They walk over my head all the time and cause me infinite torture. It is their park, their club, their summer resort. They have garden parties there, and conventions, and all sorts of dissipation. And they fear nothing. All flies are daring, but these are more daring than those of other nationalities. These cannot be scared away by any device. They are more diligent, too, than the other kinds; they come before daylight and stay till after dark. But there are compensations, not a trouble. There are very few of them, they are not noisy, and not much interested in their calling. A single unkind word will send them away; if said in English, which impresses them because they do not understand it, they come no more that night. We often see them weep when they are spoken to harshly. I have got some of the eggs to take home. If this breed can be raised in our climate they will be a great advantage. There seem to be no fleas here. This is the first time we have struck this kind of an interregnum in fifteen months. Everywhere else the supply exceeds the demand.Oct. 1.--Finding that the coachman was taking his meals in the kitchen, I reorganized the contract to include his board, at thirty francs a month. That is what it would cost him up above us in the village, and I think I can feed him for two hundred, and save thirty out of it. Saving thirty is better than not saving anything.That passage from the diary reminds me that I did an injudicious thing along about that time which bore fruit later. As I was to give the coachman, Vittorio, a monthly pourboire, of course I wanted to know the amount. So I asked the coachman's padrone (master), instead of asking somebody else--anybody else. He said thirty francs a month would be about right. I was afterward informed that this was an overcharge, but that it was customary, there being no customary charges except overcharges. However, at the end of that month the coachman demanded an extra pourboire of fifteen francs. When I asked why, he said his padrone had taken his other pourboire away from him. The padrone denied this in Vittorio's presence, and Vittorio seemed to retract. The padrone said he did, and he certainly had that aspect, but I had to take the padrone's word for it as interpreter of the coachman's Italian. When the padrone was gone the coachman resumed the charge, and as we liked him--and also believed him--we made his aggregate pourboire forty-five francs a month after that, and never doubted that the padrone took two-thirds of it. We were told by citizens that it was customary for the padrone to seize a considerable share of his dependent's pourboire, and also the custom for the padrone to deny it. That padrone is an accommodating man and a most capable and agreeable talker, speaking English like an archangel, and making it next to impossible for a body to be dissatisfied with him; yet his seventy-ton landau has kept us supplied with lame horses for nine months, whereas we were entitled to a light carriage suited to hill-climbing, and fastidious people would have made him furnish it.The Cerretani family, of old and high distinction in the great days of the Republic, lived on this place during many centuries. Along in October we began to notice a pungent and suspicious odor which we were not acquainted with and which gave us some little apprehension, but I laid it on the dog, and explained to the family that that kind of a dog always smelled that way when he was up to windward of the subject, but privately I knew it was not the dog at all. I believed it was our adopted ancestors, the Cerretanis. I believed they were preserved under the house somewhere and that it would be a good scheme to get them out and air them. But I was mistaken. I made a secret search and had to acquit the ancestors. It turned out that the odor was a harmless one. It came from the wine crop, which was stored in a part of the cellars to which we had no access. This discovery gave our imaginations a rest and it turned a disagreeable smell into a pleasant one. But not until we had so long and lavishly flooded the house with odious disinfectants that the dog left and the family had to camp in the yard most of the time. It took two months to disinfect the disinfectants and persuade our wealth of atrocious stenches to emigrate. When they were finally all gone and the wine fragrance resumed business at the old stand, we welcomed it with effusion and have had no fault to find with it since.Oct. 6.--I find myself at a disadvantage here. Four persons in the house speak Italian and nothing else, one person speaks German and nothing else, the rest of the talk is in the French, English, and profane languages. I am equipped with but the merest smattering in these tongues, if I except one or two. Angelo speaks French--a French which he could get a patent on, because he invented it himself; a French which no one can understand, a French which resembles no other confusion of sounds heard since Babel, a French which curdles the milk. He prefers it to his native Italian. He loves to talk it; loves to listen to himself; to him it is music; he will not let it alone. The family would like to get their little Italian savings into circulation, but he will not give change. It makes no difference what language he is addressed in, his reply is in French, his peculiar French, his grating, uncanny French, which sounds like shoveling anthracite down a coal chute. I know a few Italian words and several phrases, and along at first I used to keep them bright and fresh by whetting them on Angelo; but he partly couldn't understand them and partly didn't want to, so I have been obliged to withdraw them from the market for the present. But this is only temporary. I am practicing, I am preparing. Some day I shall be ready for him, and not in ineffectual French, but in his native tongue. I will seethe this kid in its mother's milk.Oct. 27.--The first month is finished. We are wonted, now. It is agreed that life at a Florentine villa is an ideal existence. The weather is divine, the outside aspects lovely, the days and the nights tranquil and reposeful, the seclusion from the world and its worries as satisfactory as a dream. There is no housekeeping to do, no plans to make, no marketing to superintend--all these things do themselves, apparently. One is vaguely aware that somebody is attending to them, just as one is aware that the world is being turned over and the constellations worked and the sun shoved around according to the schedule, but that is all; one does not feel personally concerned, or in any way responsible. Yet there is no head, no chief executive; each servant minds his or her own department, requiring no supervision and having none. They hand in elaborately itemized bills once a week; then the machinery goes silently on again, just as before. There is no noise, or fussing, or quarreling, or confusion--upstairs. I don't know what goes on below. Late in the afternoons friends come out from the city and drink tea in the open air, and tell what is happening in the world; and when the great sun sinks down upon Florence and the daily miracle begins, they hold their breaths and look. It is not a time for talk.

"It is a good while yet before election. There is time for you to come around, and you will come around. The influences about you will be too strong for you. On election day you will vote for Blaine."

I am sorry to say that the news about Patrick is very bad. I saw him Monday. He looked pretty well and was in cheerful spirits. He told me that he was fast recovering from an operation performed on him last week Wednesday, and would soon be out again. But a nurse who followed me from the room when I left told me that the poor fellow was deceived. The operation had simply disclosed the fact that nothing could be done for him.


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