Rollo in Rome(txt+pdf+epub+mobi电子书下载)

作者:Abbott, Jacob, 1803-1879


Rollo in Rome

Rollo in Rome试读:

Chapter I.

The Diligence Office.

Rollo went to Rome in company with his uncle George, from Naples. They went by the diligence, which is a species of stage coach. There are different kinds of public coaches that ply on the great thoroughfares in Italy, to take passengers for hire; but the most common kind is the diligence.

The diligences in France are very large, and are divided into different compartments, with a different price for each. There are usually three compartments below and one above. In the Italian diligences, however, or at least in the one in which Mr. George and Rollo travelled to Rome, there were only three. First there was the interior, or the body of the coach proper. Directly before this was a compartment, with a glass front, containing one seat only, which looked forward; there were, of course, places for three persons on this seat. This front compartment is called the coupé.[1] It is considered the best in the diligence.

There is also a seat up above the coupé, in a sort of second story, as it were; and this was the seat which Mr. George and Rollo usually preferred, because it was up high, where they could see better. But for the present journey Mr. George thought the high seat, which is called the banquette, would not be quite safe; for though it was covered above with a sort of chaise top, still it was open in front, and thus more exposed to the night air. In ordinary cases he would not have been at all afraid of the night air, but the country between Naples and Rome, and indeed the country all about Rome, in every direction, is very unhealthy. So unhealthy is it, in fact, that in certain seasons of the year it is almost uninhabitable; and it is in all seasons considered unsafe for strangers to pass through in the night, unless they are well protected.

There is, in particular, one tract, called the Pontine Marshes, where the road, with a sluggish canal by the side of it, runs in a straight line and on a dead level for about twenty miles. It so happened that in going to Rome by the diligence, it would be necessary to cross these marshes in the night, and this was an additional reason why Mr. George thought it better that he and Rollo should take seats inside.

The whole business of travelling by diligence in Europe is managed in a very different way from stage coach travelling in America. You must engage your place several days beforehand; and when you engage it you have a printed receipt given you, specifying the particular seats which you have taken, and also containing, on the back of it, all the rules and regulations of the service. The different seats in the several compartments of the coach are numbered, and the prices of them are different. Rollo went so early to engage the passage for himself and Mr. George that he had his choice of all the seats. He took Nos. 1 and 2 of the coupé. He paid the money and took the receipt. When he got home, he sat down by the window, while Mr. George was finishing his breakfast, and amused himself by studying out the rules and regulations printed on the back of his ticket. Of course they were in Italian; but Rollo found that he could understand them very well.

"If we are not there at the time when the diligence starts, we lose our money, uncle George," said he. "It says here that they won't pay it back again."

"That is reasonable," said Mr. George. "It will be our fault if we are not there."

"Or our misfortune," said Rollo; "something might happen to us."

"True," said Mr. George; "but the happening, whatever it might be, would be our misfortune, and not theirs, and so we ought to bear the loss of it."

"If the baggage weighs more than thirty rotolos, we must pay extra for it," continued Rollo. "How much is a rotolo, uncle George?"

"I don't know," said Mr. George, "but we have so little baggage that I am sure we cannot exceed the allowance."

"The baggage must be at the office two hours before the time for the diligence to set out," continued Rollo, passing to the next regulation on his paper.

"What is that for?" asked Mr. George.

"So that they may have time to load it on the carriage, they say," said Rollo.

"Very well," said Mr. George, "you can take it to the office the night before."

"They don't take the risk of the baggage," said Rollo, "or at least they don't guarantee it, they say, against unavoidable accidents or superior force. What does that mean?"

"Why, in case the diligence is struck by lightning, and our trunk is burned up," replied Mr. George, "or in case it is attacked by robbers, and carried away, they don't undertake to pay the damage."

"And in case of smarrimento," continued Rollo, "they say they won't pay damages to the amount of more than nine dollars, and so forth; what is a smarrimento, uncle George?"

"I don't know," said Mr. George.

"It may mean a smash-up," said Rollo.

"Very likely," said Mr. George.

"Every traveller," continued Rollo, looking again at his paper, "is responsible, personally, for all violations of the custom-house regulations, or those of the police."

"That's all right," said Mr. George.

"And the last regulation is," said Rollo, "that the travellers cannot smoke in the diligence, nor take any dogs in."

"Very well," said Mr. George, "we have no dogs, and we don't wish to smoke, either in the diligence or any where else."

"They are very good regulations," said Rollo; and so saying, he folded up the paper, and put it back into his wallet.

On the evening before the day appointed for the journey, Rollo took the valise which contained the principal portion of his own and his uncle's clothes, and went with it in a carriage to the office. Mr. George offered to accompany him, but Rollo said it was not necessary, and so he took with him a boy named Cyrus, whom he had become acquainted with at the hotel.

The carriage, when it arrived at the diligence station, drove in under an archway, and entered a spacious court surrounded by lofty buildings. There was a piazza, with columns, all around the court. Along this piazza, on the four sides of the building, were the various offices of the different lines of diligences, with the diligences themselves standing before the doors.

"Now, Cyrus," said Rollo, "we have got to find out which is our office."

But Rollo was saved any trouble on this score, for the coachman drove the carriage directly to the door of the office for Rome. Rollo had told him that that was his destination, before leaving the hotel.

There was a man in a sort of uniform at the door of the office. Rollo pointed to his valise, and said, in Italian, "For Rome to-morrow morning." The man said, "Very well," and taking the valise out of the carriage, he put it in the office. Then Rollo and Cyrus got into the carriage again, and rode away.

The next morning Mr. George and Rollo went down to breakfast before six o'clock. While they were eating their breakfast, the waiter came in with a cold roast chicken upon a plate, which he set down upon the table.

"Ah!" said Mr. George, "that is for us to eat on the way."

"Don't the diligence stop somewhere for us to dine?" asked Rollo.

"Yes," said Mr. George, "I presume it stops for us to dine, but as we are going to be out all night, I thought perhaps that we might want a supper towards morning. Besides, having a supper will help keep us awake in going across the Pontine Marshes."

"Must we keep awake?" asked Rollo.

"So they say," replied Mr. George. "They say you are more likely to catch the fever while you are asleep than while you are awake."

"I don't see why we should be," said Rollo.

"Nor do I," said Mr. George.

If Mr. George really did not know or understand a thing, he never pretended to know or understand it.

"It may be a mere notion," said Mr. George, "but it is a very prevailing one, at any rate; so I thought it would be well enough for us to have something to keep us awake."

"We will take some bread and butter too," said Rollo.

Mr. George said that that would be an excellent plan. So they each of them cut one of the breakfast rolls which were on the table in two, and after spreading the inside surfaces well with butter, they put the parts together again. The waiter brought them a quantity of clean wrapping paper, and with this they wrapped up both the chicken and the rolls, and Rollo put the three parcels into his bag.

"And now," said Rollo, "what are we to do for drink?"

"We might take some oranges," suggested Mr. George.

"So we will," said Rollo. "I will go out into the square and buy some."

Rollo, accordingly, went out into the square, and for what was equivalent to three cents of American money he bought six oranges. He put the oranges into his pockets, and returned to the hotel.

He found Mr. George filling a flat bottle with coffee. He had poured some coffee out of the coffee pot into the pitcher of hot milk, which had still a considerable quantity of hot milk remaining in it, and then, after putting some sugar into it, and waiting for the sugar to dissolve, he had commenced pouring it into the flat bottle.PREPARING FOR THE JOURNEY.>

"We may like a little coffee too," said Mr. George, "as well as the oranges. We can drink it out of my drinking cup."

Rollo put his oranges into Mr. George's bag, for his own bag was now full. When all was ready, and the hotel bill was paid, Mr. George and Rollo got into a carriage which the waiter had sent for to come to the door, and set off for the diligence office. It was only half past seven when they arrived there. Rollo saw what time it was by the great clock which was put up on the front of one of the buildings towards the court yard.

"We are too early by half an hour," said Rollo.

"Yes," said Mr. George, "in travelling over new ground we must always plan to be too early, or we run great risk of being too late."

"Never mind," said Rollo, "I am glad that we are here before the time, for now I can go around and see the other diligences getting ready to go off."

So Rollo began to walk about under the portico, or piazza, to the various diligences which were getting ready to set out on the different roads. There was one where there was a gentleman and two ladies who were quite in trouble. I suppose that among the girls who may read this book there may be many who may think that it must necessarily be a very agreeable thing to travel about Europe, and that if they could only go,—no matter under what circumstances,—they should experience an almost uninterrupted succession of pleasing sensations. But the truth is, that travelling in Europe, like every other earthly source of pleasure, is very far from being sufficient of itself to confer happiness. Indeed, under almost all the ordinary circumstances in which parties of travellers are placed, the question whether they are to enjoy themselves and be happy on any particular day of their journey, or to be discontented and miserable, depends so much upon little things which they did not at all take into the account, or even foresee at all in planning the journey, that it is wholly uncertain when you look upon a party of travellers that you meet on the road, whether they are really having a good time or not. You cannot tell at all by the outward circumstances.

There was a striking illustration of this in the case of the party that attracted Rollo's attention in the court of the diligence office. The gentleman's name was Howland. One of the ladies was his young wife, and the other lady was her sister. The sister's name was Louise. Mr. Howland intended to have taken the whole coupé for his party; but when he went to the office, the day before, to take the places, he found that one of the seats of the coupé had been engaged by a gentleman who was travelling alone.

"How unlucky!" said Mr. Howland to himself. "We must have three seats, and it won't do for us to be shut up in the interior, for there we cannot see the scenery at all."

So he went home, and asked his wife what it would be best to do. "We cannot have three seats together," said he, "unless we go up upon the banquette."

But the bride said that she could not possibly ride on the banquette. She could not climb up to such a high place.

Now, Mrs. Howland's real reason for not being willing to ride on the banquette, was not the difficulty of climbing up, for at all the diligence offices they have convenient step ladders for the use of the passengers in getting up and down. The real reason was, she thought it was not genteel to ride there. And in fact it is not genteel. There is no part of the diligence where people who attach much importance to the fashion of the thing are willing to go, except the coupé.

"And we don't want to ride in the interior," said Mr. Howland.

"No," said the bride, "that is worse than the banquette."

"Nor to wait till another day," added Mr. Howland.

"No," said Mrs. Howland. "We must go to-morrow, and we must have the coupé. The gentleman who has engaged the third seat will give it up to us, I am sure, when he knows that it is to oblige a lady. You can engage the two seats in the coupé, and one more, either on the banquette or in the interior, and then when the time comes to set out we will get the gentleman to let us have his seat. You can pay him the difference."

"But, Angelina," said Mr. Howland, "I should not like to ask such a thing of the gentleman. He has taken pains to go a day or two beforehand to engage his seat, so as to make sure of a good one, and I don't think we ought to expect him to give it up to accommodate strangers."

"O, he won't mind," said Mrs. Howland. "He would as lief change as not. And if he won't, we can arrange it in some way or other."

So Mr. Howland engaged the two places in the coupé, and one on the banquette. When the morning came, he brought his two ladies to the diligence station in good season. He was very unwilling to ask the gentleman to give up his seat; but his wife, who was a good deal accustomed to have her own way, and who, besides, being now a bride, considered herself specially entitled to indulgences, declared that if her husband did not ask the gentleman, she would ask him herself.

"Very well," said Mr. Howland, "I will ask him then."

So Mr. Howland went to the gentleman, and asked him. He was standing at the time, with his umbrella and walking stick in his hand, near one of the pillars of the portico, smoking a cigar. He looked at Mr. Howland with an expression of some surprise upon his countenance on hearing the proposition, took one or two puffs from his cigar before replying, and then said quietly that he preferred the seat that he had taken in the coupé.

"It would be a very great favor to us, if you would exchange with us," said Mrs. Howland, who had come up with her husband, and stood near. "We are three, and we want very much to be seated together. We will very gladly pay the difference of the fare."

The gentleman immediately, on being thus addressed by Mrs. Howland, took the cigar out of his mouth, raised his hat, and bowed very politely.

"Are you and this other lady the gentleman's party?" he asked.

"Yes, sir," said Mrs. Howland.

"Then I cannot possibly think of giving up my seat in the coupé," replied the gentleman. "I am a Russian, it is true, but I am not a bear, as I should very justly be considered, if I were to leave a compartment in the coach when two such beautiful ladies as you were coming into it, especially under the influence of any such consideration as that of saving the difference in the fare."

The gentleman said this in so frank and good-natured a way that it was impossible to take offence at it, though Mr. Howland felt, that by making the request and receiving such a reply, he had placed himself in a very ridiculous position.

"I prize my seat more than ever," said the Russian, still addressing the ladies; "I prize it incalculably, and so I cannot think of going up upon the banquette. But if the gentleman will go up there, I will promise to take the very best care of the ladies possible, while they are in the coupé."

Mrs. Howland then took Louise aside, and asked, in a whisper, whether she should have any objection to ride in the interior, in case Mr. Howland could exchange the place on the banquette for one within. Louise was quite troubled that her sister should make such a proposal. She said she should not like very well to go in there among so many strangers, and in a place, too, where she could not see the scenery at all. Besides, Louise thought that it would have been more generous in Angelina, if she thought it necessary for one or the other of them to ride inside, to have offered to take a seat there herself, instead of putting it off upon her sister, especially since it was not so proper, she thought, for her, being a young lady, to ride among strangers, as for one who was married.

Mr. Howland then suggested that they should all ascend to the banquette. The persons who had the other two seats there would of course be willing to change for the coupé; or at least, since the coupé was considered the best place, there would be no indelicacy in asking them to do it.

But the bride would not listen to this proposal. She never could climb up there, in the world, she said.

By this time the coach was ready, and the conductor began to call upon the passengers to take their places, so that there was no more time for deliberation. They were all obliged to take their seats as the conductor called off the names from his way bill. The two ladies entered the coupé in company with the Russian, while Mr. Howland ascended by the step ladder to his seat on the banquette. While the passengers were thus getting seated the postilions were putting in the horses, and in a moment more the diligence set off.

Now, here were four persons setting out on a pleasant morning, in a good carriage, to take the drive from Naples to Rome—one of the most charming drives that the whole tour of Europe affords, and yet not one of them was in a condition to enjoy it. Every one was dissatisfied, out of humor, and unhappy. The Russian gentleman was displeased with Mr. Howland for asking him to give up his seat, and he felt uncomfortable and ill at ease in being shut up with two ladies, who he knew were displeased with him for not giving it up. The bride was vexed with the Russian for insisting on his place in the coupé, and with her sister for not being willing to go into the interior, so that she might ride with her husband. Miss Louise was offended at having been asked to sit in the interior, which request, she said to herself, was only part of a systematic plan, which her sister seemed to have adopted for the whole journey, to make herself the principal personage in every thing, and to treat her, Louise, as if she was of no consequence whatever. And last of all, Mr. Howland, on the banquette above, was out of humor with himself for having asked the Russian to give up his seat, and thus subjected himself to the mortification of a refusal, and with his wife for having required him to ask it.

Thus they were all at heart uncomfortable and unhappy, and as the horses trotted swiftly on along the smooth and beautiful road which traverses the rich campagna of Naples, on the way to Capua, the splendid scenery was wholly disregarded by every one of them.

Now, it is very often so with parties travelling in Europe. The external circumstances are all perhaps extremely favorable, and they are passing through scenes or visiting places which they have thought of and dreamed of at home with beating hearts for many years. And yet now that the time has come, and the enjoyment is before them, there is some internal source of disquiet, some mental vexation or annoyance, some secret resentment or heart-burning, arising out of the circumstances in which they are placed, or the relations which they sustain to one another, which destroys their peace and quiet of mind, and of course incapacitates them for any real happiness. So that, on the whole, judging from what I have seen of tourists in Europe, I should say that those that travel do not after all, in general, really pass their time more happily than those who remain at home.

I have two reasons for saying these things. One is, that those of





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