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AT the close of the last day but one of the journey from Rome to Florence, when the carriage drove up to the door of the hotel to stop for the night, Florence and John were surprised to see a handsome young boy, apparently fourteen or fifteen years of age, standing on the steps of the door. He was just entering the door, but hearing the sound of a carriage coming, he stopped to see who was in it.
Strange as it may appear, it is rare that travellers see any company at these hotels. It seemed to Florence and John, every night when they stopped, that they had the whole place all to themselves. One would suppose that the hotels on the road to Rome would be thronged with travellers. But the contrary of this is the fact. In the first place, there is scarcely any business travel at all on these roads. In our country, the hotels are thronged at all times with merchants, and other men of business, that
are going incessantly to and from the great cities, and back and forth in the interior, to attend to their affairs-but there is nothing of this kind in Italy. There is scarcely any travelling on the great routes except that of family parties going from England, France and Germany to the great capital on visits of curiosity or pleasure. And though the number of these in the whole season is great, the proportion on any one day is small.
Besides this, a large portion of the travellers of all classes that visit Rome, go by the steamers from Marseilles to Civita Vecchia, and this helps to make the roads and the hotels on the land seem more solitary.
It happens, from these and other causes, that people travelling for the first time in Italy, are always much surprised to observe how few fellow travellers they meet by the way, and very often a family arriving at a hotel in a large town to spend the night, find that they themselves are apparently the only guests.
It is true that sometimes there are other guests, in some other part of the hotel, occupying their own suite of rooms, but giving no signs of their presence in the house to any party arriving after them, until the carriage comes up to the door the next morning to take them away.
The children had been accustomed to this state of things, and so, when they saw a boy standing at the door of the hotel where they were to stop for the night, on the evening before their arrival at Florence, their attention was at once attracted to the circumstance.
"Who can that be ?" said John, in a low tone to Florence. "He looks like an American boy."
The boy remained on the steps until the carriage came up to the door, and then, after looking for a moment with a pleased expression of countenance at Florence and John, he turned and went slowly up stairs.
The children, as usual, remained in the carriage until Pacifico had been in to make arrangements for them, and then they went up to their rooms. They supposed, from having seen the boy at the door, that there was a family of travellers already in the hotel, though at that time they saw no other indications of them.
At length, however, after they had finished their dinner, and the waiter, who at that place attended them, was carrying out the things from the dinner, they saw a bright-eyed and pretty little girl, apparently about four years old, standing at the door and looking in.
John immediately held out his hand and said, "Come in here, my little girl, and see us."
The child shook her head and fell back a little, but continued looking into the room.
"What is your name ?" asked Florence. "Willie," said the girl.
Then, if your name is Willie," said John, "you ought to be willing to come in here and
The girl seemed to look a little puzzled at this novel species of argument, framed by giving a double meaning to her name, but she did not
"I don't see how a girl can have such a name as Willie," said Florence.
"Neither do I,” said John.
"Perhaps that is her father's name," said Florence. "He may be a Mr. Willey."
The girl hearing the two children talking thus to each other, and leaving her to herself, took courage, and came up nearer to the door.
"What is your other name ?" asked John. The girl did not answer.
"Is Willie all the name you have got ?" asked John.
"I have got two Willies," said the girl.
The truth of the case was, as Florence and, John found out afterward, that Florence's surmise in respect to Willey's being the family name of the child was correct, and her christian
name was Wilhelmina. This name, in common parlance, was contracted into Willie, so that the girl's name in full, as it was commonly spoken, was Willie Willey.
After the girl had stood a moment at the door she asked,
"Where are your father and mother ?"
"Ah!" said John. "I wish we only knew." "But you come in here and see us and we will tell you all we know about it," added John.
So saying John rose from his seat and went toward the door, with the intention of bringing Willie in. She, however, as soon as she saw him approaching, turned round and ran away.
Little Willie was induced to inquire of Florence and John where their father and mother were, from having heard some conversation on the subject in her own father and mother's room. When her brother, whose name was Edwin, came up from the door, after witnessing the arrival of the carriage, his mother asked who came in it. He told her that there were only two children in it, one a very pretty girl and the other a boy some years younger. His mother asked him if he could tell what nation they were. He said they were Americans. His mother asked