« PreviousContinue »
all dine together, the children were both well pleased with the invitation, and Florence accepted it at once.
They learned from Mrs. Willey that she and her family were on their way to Venice. They were sorry for this, for it would prevent their travelling in company with her farther than to Florence; for the road to Venice from Florence turns off to the eastward, as will be seen by reference to any map, while Florence and John, in continuing their journey toward Geneva, must go to the northward.
Florence became also considerably acquainted with Edwin at the dinner that day, and she liked him very much, he was so gentle and quiet in his manners and so polite and attentive to her. She also talked a good deal with Willie, and after dinner she took Willie up in her lap and amused her for some time by telling her stories.
Just before the carriages came to the door Edwin proposed to his mother that he and Willie should take her place in Florence's carriage. Mr. Willey said she had no objection if such arrangement was agreeable to Miss Florence. "Yes, Florence," said John eagerly, "let them come."
Florence very readily assented to the proposal,
and so the four young people rode together during the afternoon. They arrived in Florence quite early, and all went to the same hotel.
But before closing the chapter I must explain, as I promised to do, how it happens that an Italian vetturino is usually pleased when any additional duty is put upon him by his family or by their friends, as in the case of a portion of Mrs. Willey's party coming to ride in Pacifico's carriage. The reason is he always expects that the service will be acknowledged by some additional gratuity. Pacifico knew very well that such a lady as Mrs. Willey would not give his horses an additional load to draw for a whole day without some recompense to him.
Nor was he disappointed in this expectation. The next morning after the arrival of the two parties in Florence Mrs. Willey sent word by Pedro to Pacifico that she would like to see him in her parlor, and Pacifico accordingly came up. It happened that at the time there was nobody in the room except Mrs. Willey and little Wilhelmina.
"Good morning, Monsieur Pacifico," said Mrs. Willey. "Will you take a seat?"
Pacifico was standing near the door in a very respectful attitude, with his cap in his hand, but at Mrs. Willey's invitation he took a seat.
"And how are your horses this morning, Monsieur Pacifico, after their double duty yesterday ?"
"Ah, madame!" said Pacifico. "It was no double duty to my horses. It was all the more agreeable to them I am sure, as to me, to have the honor of conveying Madame, and Monsieur Edvine, and Mademoiselle, a few miles on the road. It made me much pleasure too that my family were so made gay a little in their long voyage solitaire."
"It is very kind in you to say so," replied Mrs. Willey, at the same time drawing her purse out of her pocket, "but we really made your load pretty heavy, and you must give your horses a double supply of good provender to-day, and also have a good dinner yourself."
So saying Mrs. Willey took out a half Napoleon from her purse, which was in value about two dollars, and advancing toward Pacifico put it into his hand. He rose to receive it, and bowing very respectfully, he said,
"Ah, it is too much. Madame is too good. Madame has given me gold. But I shall not expend it at all for the benefit of my horses or for myself. I shall buy a robe with it for my little Paulina, which will rejoice her heart when
I present it to her and tell her about my lady's extreme generosity and kindness."
All this sounds very pretty, and the saying it enabled Pacifico to terminate the interview with Mrs. Willey in a graceful manner, and to leave an agreeable impression upon her mind, as he went away. But I am sorry to say it would not be in such a case at all certain that there was any Pauline in existence, or that if there were, that the promise of purchasing a dress for her would be carried into effect. It may be that Pacifico had a daughter, and it may be not. To establish the fact positively would require a very different kind of evidence from his saying that he had, in such a connection. A courier or vetturino, who is strictly honest, and would not on any account defraud his employer of a single sou that was his due, will often embellish his statements very liberally in cases where he thinks no harm can come to any body, but pleasure rather, from a little fiction. So that if Pacifico had thought that such a mode of receiving Mrs. Willey's gratuity would be agreeable to her, and leave a pleasant feeling in her mind as he went away, and make her glad that she gave him the money, there was no moral principle established within him, that would prevent his creating an imaginary Pauline for the occasion,
or resorting to any other harmless supposition which might help him accomplish so desirable an end.
Pacifico, having received his money, went
"Mother," said Willie, who had been playing upon the floor with a small doll during this conversation, "I am going to send Zippy to Paulina."
Zippy was the name of the doll.
"Ah ?" said Mrs. Willey.
"Do you think Paulina has got any doll ?" asked Willie.
"No," replied her mother. "I do not believe she has, and I have no doubt that she would be very much pleased with Zippy, if you think best to send her. But you had better put on a fresh and nice dress, if you intend sending her away."
So Willie dressed Zippy up nicely for leaving home, and then Mrs. Willey put her in a paper box, in which some of her purchases had been sent to the hotel that morning, from one of the shops on the Ponte Vecchio, and then sent the box by Pedro to Pacifico, saying it was a present for Paulina, by a young lady who rode one day in her father's carriage. Pacifico received the box, and seemed much pleased with