我现在真的坐在皮卡迪利大街巴思旅馆一个临街的窗前。这不是个时髦地方，可是几年前，叔叔在这儿停下来，再也不想去别的地方了。而我们也不打算在这 儿呆长，这也就不是什么大事了。哦，我无法从头至尾告诉你们我是多么地欣赏这一切！毫无办法。因此，我只能告诉你们一些我笔记本上记的事。从出发以来我除 了画些素描，胡乱写些东西之外什么都没干。
到达哈利法克斯时，我寄了封短信。那时我感到很难受。从那以后，我过得很愉快，几乎没有生病，整天在甲板上，有许多有趣的人逗我。每个人对我都很客 气，特别是那些官员们。别笑，乔。在船上真是非常需要先生们，需要依赖他们，需要他们的侍候。他们无事可做，使他们成为有用的人倒是对他们施惠。不然的 话，我担心他们非抽烟抽死不可。
婶婶和弗洛一路上身体都不舒服，想清静些，所以我做完能为她们做的事，便自己去玩。那种在甲板上散步的滋味，那样的落日，那样好的空气与波浪！那种 感受几乎和我们骑着快马飞奔一样激动人心。我真希望贝思也能来这儿，这将对她大有好处。至于乔嘛，她会爬上去坐在大桅楼的三角帆上，或者管它叫什么来着的 那个高高的东西上。她会和轮船水手们交朋友，对着船长的传声筒嘟嘟乱吵，她会欣喜若狂的。
一切都其妙无比。并且，我高兴地看到了爱尔兰的海岸，发现它非常可爱。远远望去，那么绿，海岸洒满阳光，四处点缀着棕色的小木屋。山上的一些古迹隐 约可见，山谷里有着绅士们的别墅，小鹿们在花园里吃着草。当时是清晨，可是，我并不后悔起早观景。海湾里布满了小船，海岸上风景如画，头顶上天色泛红。我 永远也忘不了这个景致。
我们在利物品只停留了几小时。这个地方又脏又吵。我倒乐意早些离开。叔叔做的第一件事便是赶快去买了副狗皮手套和一双又丑又笨的鞋子，还有一把雨桑 然后，他刮掉了络腮胡子，自以为看上去像个真正的英国人，可是，他第一次让人擦鞋子，那擦皮鞋的小家伙便知道穿鞋人是个美国人，笑嘻嘻地说：“擦好啦，先 生，我用的是最新式的美国擦法。“逗得叔叔大笑。噢，我得告诉你们那个荒唐的伦诺克斯干了什么！他让他的朋友沃德为我预定了一束花，沃德和我们一起继续旅 行。我进屋第一眼便看到了一束可爱的花，附着一张卡片“罗伯特·伦诺克斯敬赠"。姑娘们，可有意思？
我要是不抓紧，恐怕根本写不到伦敦的事儿了。旅途就像是乘车在一个长长的充满迷人景象的画廓中穿行。我喜欢看那些农舍。茅草盖的屋顶，常春藤一直缠 绕到屋檐，格子状的窗户，门前有健壮的妇女和面色红润的孩子们。这里的牲口站在齐膝深的三叶草中，看上去比我们那里的牲口要平静些。母鸡知足地咯咯叫着， 好像从来不像美国鸡们那样神经紧张。我从未见过这种完美的色彩--草是那么绿，天是那么蓝，谷物金黄，树木葱郁。一路上我欢天喜地。弗洛也是这样。我们以 每小时六十英里的速度急速前行，我们不停地从一边蹦到另一边，想把美景尽收眼中。婶婶倦了去睡觉了，叔叔读着旅行指南，他对一切无动于衷。当时情况是这样 的：艾美，跳了起来--"噢，树丛中的那片灰色肯定是凯尼尔沃思城！“弗洛，冲到我的窗前--"多美呀！我们什么时候一定去那，是不是，爸爸？“叔叔，不 动声色地欣赏着自己的靴子--"不，亲爱的，除非你要喝啤酒，那是个啤酒厂。“安静了一阵--后来弗洛叫了起来：“天哪，那儿有个绞刑架，有个人往那 去。““哪儿，哪儿？“艾美尖叫着向外望去，看见两根高柱子，上面有横梁，还有一些摇晃着的链条。“是个煤矿，“叔叔眨着眼说道。“这里有群可爱的羊，它 们都躺下了，“艾美说。“瞧！爸爸，它们多漂亮！“弗洛动情地说。
我们到达伦敦时不用说又在下雨。除了雾和雨伞没什么可看的。我们休息，打开包裹，阵雨之间去了商店。玛丽婶婶给我买了些新东西，因为我出门太匆促， 准备得不充分。买了顶饰有蓝羽的白帽子，一件和它相配的棉布衣，还有个你所见过的最漂亮的斗篷。在摄政街购物感觉棒极了，东西似乎很便宜--漂亮的丝带才 六便士一码。我购备了一些。但我的手套要到巴黎去买。这听起来是不是有点像讲究的有钱人？
叔叔和婶婶出去了，我和弗洛要了部漂亮的出租马车，出去兜风玩儿。后来我们才知道年轻女士单独坐马车不合适。那太有意思了！当时我们给木头挡板关进 了车厢，马夫车驾得那么快，弗洛吓坏了，叫我止住他。可是，他坐在车厢外面后部的什么地方，我没法接近他。他既听不见我的叫声，也看不见我在用阳伞拍打着 车厢前部。就这样，我们无可奈何地哒哒哒地行驶着，以极其危险的速度旋转过一个个拐角。最后，无计可施之际我看见车厢顶上有个小门。我刚把它捣开，一只红 眼睛便出现了，一个微醉的声音说--“喂喂，小姐？“我尽量严肃地下了指令，马夫应着"是，是，小姐"，砰地关上门，骑着马走起来，仿佛是去参加葬礼。我 又伸出头说：“稍快一点。“于是，又像刚才那样策马飞奔。我们只好束手听命。
今天天气好，我们去了附近的海德公园，因为，我们比外表看上去更贵族气一些。德文郡的公爵就住在附近。我常看到他的男仆在后门闲逛。威灵顿公爵的宅 第离这里也不远。我的天哪！我看到的是什么样的景象啊！和木偶剧的角儿一样好看。胖胖的老年贵妇们乘坐的红色、黄色马车到处滚动，漂亮的仆从脚着长统丝 袜，身穿天鹅绒外衣坐在车后，搽了粉的赶马人坐在车前。伶俐的女仆带着面色非常红润的孩子。端庄秀丽的姑娘们看上去似睡非睡。戴着古怪的英国帽和淡紫色小 山羊皮手套的美少年们漫步悠游。高个儿士兵们穿着红色的短夹克，歪戴着粉饼样的呢帽。这一切看上去那么滑稽，我真想为他们作幅速写。
练马林荫路是指"ＲｏｕｔｅｄｅＲｏｉ"，也就是国王路。但是现在它更像个马术学校。那些马都很棒。那些人，尤其是马夫们，骑术很好。然而，妇人们 绷直着腿，在马上乱蹦。那可不是我们的规则。我真想让她们看看美国式的骑马飞奔。她们穿着单薄的骑装，戴着高帽子，表情严肃，一颠一颠地打马小跑着。看着 就像玩具诺亚方舟里的女人。这儿每个人都会骑马--老人、健壮的妇人、小孩子们--这里的年轻人就爱谈情说爱。我看到过一对年轻人交换玫瑰花蕾，钮扣眼里 插一朵花蕾很别致。我想，这个主意很不错。
要不是看了名片我都认不出他们了。两个人都长成大高个了，都长着络腮胡子。弗雷德英俊潇洒，美国味十足。弗兰克情况好多了，他只有些微跛，不用拐杖 了。他们收到劳里的信，得知我们在哪，过来邀请我们去他们家；可是叔叔不肯去，所以我们打算回访。他们和我们一起去看了戏。我们玩得真是惬意非常。弗兰克 一味和弗洛交谈，而弗雷德和我讲着过去的、现在的、将来的趣事，好像我们一直都彼此了解。告诉贝思，弗兰克问起了她，听说她身体不好很难过。我谈到乔时弗 雷德笑了，他向"那个大帽子致敬"。他们两人都没有忘记劳伦斯营地，也没有忘记我们在那里有过的欢乐。似乎那是很长时间以前的事了，是不是？
婶婶已经是第三次敲墙壁了，所以我必须停笔了。我真的像一个放荡的伦敦上流妇女，坐在这里写信写得这么晚，屋子里满是漂亮的东西，脑子里乱七八糟地 装着公园、剧院、新衣裙以及那些会献殷勤的男士们。他们说着"啊"，带着道地的英国贵族气派用手缠绕着金黄色小胡子。我非常想见到你们大家。虽然我说了这 许多废话，我永远是你们忠实的艾美巴黎亲爱的姐姐们：上封信我和你们谈到了伦敦回访一事--沃恩一家太客气了，他们为我们举行了令人难忘的社交聚会。所有 的事情当中，我最欣赏的是去汉普顿展览馆和肯辛顿博物馆--因为，在汉普顿我看到了拉斐尔的草图，在博物馆，我参观了一个个放满着画的陈列室。这些画出自 诱纳、劳伦斯、雷诺兹、贺加斯以及其他一些伟大画家之手。在里士满公园度过的那天很有趣，我们搞了个正规的英国式野餐，公园里有许多极好的橡树，有一群群 小鹿，太多了我都临摹不完。我还听到了夜莺的啼鸣，看到云雀直冲云霄。多亏了弗雷德和弗兰克，我们尽情"享受"了伦敦，离开它感到难过。我想，虽然伦敦人 要很长时间才能接纳你，可一旦他们决定接纳，谁也别想超过他们待客的热情。沃恩一家希望明年冬天在罗马见到我们。如果见不到他们，我会非常失望的。因为格 雷斯是我的好朋友，两个男孩也很不错--特别是弗雷德。
且说，我们在这里还没有安顿下来，弗雷德又出现了，说是来度假的，打算去瑞士。婶婶开始严肃起来，但是他处事很慎重，婶婶也就无话可说了。现在我们 相处得很不错。很高兴他来了，因为他的法语说得像当地人。要是没有他真不知道我们该怎么办。叔叔懂的法语还不到十个字，他一贯用英语高门大嗓说话，好像那 样就能让别人听懂他的话。婶婶的发音是老式的。虽然我和弗洛自以为懂不少法语，结果发现情况并非如此。非常高兴能有弗雷德“讲话“，叔叔就是这么说他的。
我们过得多么惬意啊！从早到晚观光，在装饰华丽的餐馆停下来吃丰盛的午餐，经历各种各样令人解颐的奇遇。下雨天我就待在罗浮宫，沉迷于画中。对那些 艺术精疲乔会翘起她淘气的鼻子，因为她对艺术没有热情，可是我有。我尽快地培养艺术眼光与趣味。她会更喜欢伟人的纪念物。在这里我看到了拿破仑的三角帽和 灰大衣，他小孩的摇篮以及他的旧牙刷；还有玛丽·安托瓦内特王后的小鞋子，圣丹尼斯主教的戒指，查理曼大帝的剑等其他许多有趣的东西。我回家后会和你们谈 上几小时的，可是现在没时间写了。
皇宫非常漂亮--里面有那么多珠宝，那么多美丽的东西，我都快要发狂了，因为我买不起它们。弗雷德要为我买一些，可我当然不能让他这么做。还有那林 园和香榭丽舍大街，ｔｒèｓｍａｇｎｉ?eｉｑｕｅ。我见过几次皇室成员--皇帝很丑，看上去很冷酷，皇后面色苍白，很美，可是打扮得不雅致，我想--紫 裙子、绿帽子、黄手套。小拿卜是个漂亮的男孩，他坐在四轮大马车里和他的导师闲谈着，向他们经过的人群飞着吻，车上左马骑手们穿着红缎子夹克，车前车后各 有一个骑马卫兵。
我们的屋子位于里佛利街，坐在阳台上，我们眺望着长街的迷人景色。白天玩累了，晚上不想出去时在阳台上闲聊真是令人惬意。弗雷德非常有趣，他是我所 遇见的最令人愉快的小伙子--除了劳里，劳里的风度更迷人。但愿弗雷德是黑皮肤，因为我不喜欢皮肤白的男人。可是沃恩家富有，门第高贵，我也就不挑剔他们 的黄头发了，再说，我的头发比他们的还要黄。
沿着莱茵河航行非常美妙，我只是坐在船上全身心地享受着。找来爸爸那些旧旅行指南读一读吧，我的语言不够美，描绘不出那种景致。在科布伦次，我们过 得很快活。弗雷德在船上结识的几个波恩学生为我们演奏了小夜曲。那是个月光皎洁的夜晚，大约一点钟左右，我和弗洛被窗下传来的一阵妙曼的歌声弄醒了。我们 一跃而起，躲到窗帘后，偷偷往外看，原来是弗雷德和那些学生在窗下不停地唱歌。这可是我见过的最浪漫的情景--那河、那船桥、对岸的城堡、如洗的月光，还 有那动人心弦的音乐。
等他们唱完，我们便朝下扔花束，看到他们争抢着，对着看不见的女士们飞吻，然后笑着走开了--我猜是去抽烟、喝啤酒。第二天早上，弗雷德给我看插在 他背心口袋里的一朵弄皱了的花，他看上去充满柔情。我笑话他，说那不是我扔的，是弗洛扔的，这迫使他失意。他把花扔出窗外，头脑又冷静下来。我担心会和这 个男孩发生麻烦事，已经开始有点苗头了。
拿骚的温泉浴场令人快乐，巴当-巴当市的也是这样。弗雷德在那里丢了些钱，我责备了他。弗兰克不和他在一起时弗雷德需要人照顾。凯特曾经说她希望他 赶快结婚。我有同感，他需要结婚。法兰克福令人愉快，在那里我看到了歌德的故居，席勒的雕像，丹内苛尔著名的《阿里阿德涅》，故事非常好，可要是我对这故 事知道得多一些我会更欣赏的。我不愿问别人，每个人都知道这故事，或者假装知道。希望乔能把故事全讲给我听。我本来应该多读些书的，因为我现在发现我什么 都不知道，真后悔。
现在说说正经事吧—-它发生在这里，弗雷德刚走。他一直彬彬有礼，有趣味，我们都喜欢他。在唱小夜曲的夜晚之前，我一直只把他看作一起旅游的朋友， 从未想过别的。打那以后，我开始感觉到，那月光下的散步、阳台上的闲聊、每日的奇遇，对他来说，意义超出娱乐之外。我没有调情，妈妈，真的。我记住了你对 我说的话，尽了最大的努力。我没法阻止别人喜欢我。我没有讨好他们，要是我不喜欢他们，我还会着急的，尽管乔会说我没有感情。我知道妈妈会摇头，姐姐们会 说：“哦，这个唯利是图的小坏蛋！“可是，我已经打定主意，如果弗雷德向我求婚，我就接受，虽然我没有狂热地爱上他。我喜欢他，我们在一起相处很愉快。他 英竣年轻、十分聪明、非常富有--比劳伦斯家富得多。我想他家人不会反对的。我将非常幸福，因为他们全家人都很友善、有教养、慷慨大方，他们喜欢我。弗雷 德作为双胞胎中的老大，我想，将会得到房产。那是一座多么令人满意的住宅啊！房子位于市区上流社会的街区，不像我们家的大房子那样显眼，但是住在里面的舒 适程度远远超过我们。房子里满是英国人推崇的纯粹的奢侈品。我喜欢这样，那些可都是地地道道的。
我见过那刻有姓氏的金属牌、家传珍宝、老仆人，以及乡下别墅的照片，上面有花园、大房子、可爱的庭院，还有骏马，哦，我还能求什么呢？我宁愿拥有这 些，可不要女孩们乐意抢夺的什么爵位了，我觉得这样也没拉下什么。我可能是唯利是图，但是，我讨厌贫穷。只要有可能我一分钟也不能忍受贫穷。我们中必须有 一个人嫁给富人；梅格没有，乔不会这么做，贝思还不能够，所以我将这么做，把我们身边的一切都变得舒适。我不会去嫁给一个我讨厌或者看不起的人，你们可以 确信。虽然弗雷德不是我理想的英雄，但他做得不错，如果他非常喜欢我，让我随心所欲，总有一天我会十分喜欢他的。所以，上个星期，我一直在脑中考虑这件 事。显而易见弗雷德喜欢我。他什么也没说，但是一些小事情表明了一切。他从不和弗洛一起走，坐车、吃饭、散步时，他总是在我这一边，当我们单独在一起时， 他看上去总是柔情万端。谁要是和我说话，他就对谁皱眉头。昨天晚宴时，一个奥地利官员目不转睛地看着我们，然后和他的朋友--一个时髦的男爵--说了些什 么"ｅｉｎｗｏｎｄｅｒｓｃｈｏAｎｅｓＢｌｏAｎｄｃｈｅｎ“，弗雷德愤怒得像头狮子，他狠命地切着肉，差点把肉弄出盘子外。他不是那种冷静傲慢的英国 人，但是脾气相当暴躁，因为他身上有着苏格兰的血统，这一点我们从他美丽的蓝眼睛就可以猜出。
嗯，昨天日落时分我们去了城堡--除了弗雷德，所有人都去了，他先去待领邮局取信，然后来会我们。我们信步漫游，看看废墟，看看存放大酒桶的地窖， 看看早年选帝侯为他的英国妻子建造的美丽花园。我们玩得很开心。我最喜欢那大平台，在那儿可以看到绝妙的景色。因此，当其他人进屋子里去观察时，我坐在平 台上，试着画下墙上的灰色石狮子，狮头周围悬挂着红色忍冬。我感到像是身处一种罗曼蒂克的氛围。坐在那里，看着内卡河在山谷中奔腾穿行，听着奥地利乐队在 城堡下演奏的乐曲，等着我的情人。我真的像故事书中的女孩。我感觉要发生什么事，我已做好准备。我不脸红，不战栗。我相当冷静，只稍稍有点激动。
不一会儿，我听见了弗雷德的声音。他匆匆穿过大拱门找我。他看上去那样不安，我忘掉了自己，问他怎么回事，他说他刚收到一封信，要他回家，因为弗兰 克病得很厉害；他马上就坐夜车走，时间只够道个别。我为他非常难过，也为我自己感到失望。可是难过、失望只有一会儿，因为他握着我的手说--说话的口气我 不会误解的--"我不久就会回来的。你不会忘了我吧，艾美？“我没有许诺，只是看着他，他似乎满意了。没有时间做别的事了，只能互相祝愿，道别。一小时后 他便走了。我们大家都非常想念他。我知道他想说出来，但是从他曾经作出的暗示，我想他答应过他爸爸暂时不提这事，因为他是个还未成熟的男孩，而且老先生害 怕要一个外国媳妇。不久我们将在罗马相遇。到那时，如果我没改变主意，他问我"愿意吗？“我就说"愿意，谢谢"。
Here I really sit at a front window of the Bath Hotel,Piccadilly. It's not a fashionable place, but Uncle stoppedhere years ago, and won't go anywhere else. However, we don'tmean to stay long, so it's no great matter. Oh, I can't beginto tell you how I enjoy it all! I never can, so I'll only giveyou bits out of my notebook, for I've done nothing but sketchand scribble since I started.
I sent a line from Halifax, when I felt pretty miserable,but after that I got on delightfully, seldom ill, on deck allday, with plenty of pleasant people to amuse me. Everyone wasvery kind to me, especially the officers. Don't laugh, Jo,gentlemen really are very necessary aboard ship, to hold on to,or to wait upon one, and as they have nothing to do, it's a mercyto make them useful, otherwise they would smoke themselves to death,I'm afraid.
Aunt and Flo were poorly all the way, and liked to be letalone, so when I had done what I could for them, I went andenjoyed myself. Such walks on deck, such sunsets, such splendidair and waves! It was almost as exciting as riding a fast horse,when we went rushing on so grandly. I wish Beth could have come,it would have done her so much good. As for Jo, she would havegone up and sat on the maintop jib, or whatever the high thingis called, made friends with the engineers, and tooted on thecaptain's speaking trumpet, she'd have been in such a state ofrapture.
It was all heavenly, but I was glad to see the Irish coast,and found it very lovely, so green and sunny, with brown cabinshere and there, ruins on some of the hills, and gentlemen'scountryseats in the valleys, with deer feeding in the parks.It was early in the morning, but I didn't regret getting up tosee it, for the bay was full of little boats, the shore so picturesque,and a rosy sky overhead. I never shall forget it.
At Queenstown on of my new acquaintances left us, Mr.Lennox, and when I said something about the Lakes of Killarney,he sighed and and, with a look at me...
"Oh, have you e'er heard of Kate Kearney?She lives on the banks of Killarney;From the glance of her eye,
Shun danger and fly,
For fatal's the glance of Kate Kearney."
Wasn't that nonsensical?
We only stopped at Liverpool a few hours. It's a dirty,noisy place, and I was glad to leave it. Uncle rushed out andbought a pair of dogskin gloves, some ugly, thick shoes, and anumbrella, and got shaved `a la mutton chop, the first thing.Then he flattered himself that he looked like a true Briton,but the first time he had the mud cleaned off his shoes, thelittle bootblack knew that an American stood in them, and said,with a grin, "There yer har, sir. I've given `em the latestYankee shine." It amused Uncle immensely. Oh, I must tell youwhat that absurd Lennox did! He got his friend Ward, who cameon with us, to order a bouquet for me, and the first thing Isaw in my room was a lovely one, with "Robert Lennox's compliments,"on the card. Wasn't that fun, girls? I like traveling.
I never shall get to London if I don't hurry. The trip waslike riding through a long picture gallery, full of lovely landscapes.The farmhouses were my delight, with thatched roofs,ivy up to the eaves, latticed windows, and stout women with rosychildren at the doors. The very cattle looked more tranquilthan ours, as they stood knee-deep in clover, and the hens hada contented cluck, as if they never got nervous like Yankeebiddies. Such perfect color I never saw, the grass so green, skyso blue, grain so yellow, woods so dark, I was in a rapture allthe way. So was Flo, and we kept bouncing from one side to theother, trying to see everything while we were whisking along atthe rate of sixty miles an hour. Aunt was tired and went to sleep,but Uncle read his guidebook, and wouldn't be astonished at anything.This is the way we went on. Amy, flying up--"Oh, thatmust be Kenilworth, that gray place among the trees!" Flo, dartingto my window--"How sweet! We must go there sometime, won't wePapa?" Uncle, calmly admiring his boots--"No, my dear, not unlessyou want beer, that's a brewery."
A pause--then Flo cried out, "Bless me, there's a gallows anda man going up." "Where, where?" shrieks Amy, staring out at twotall posts with a crossbeam and some dangling chains. "A colliery,"remarks Uncle, with a twinkle of the eye. "Here's a lovely flockof lambs all lying down," says Amy. "See, Papa, aren't theypretty?" added Flo sentimentally. "Geese, young ladies," returnsUncle, in a tone that keeps us quiet till Flo settles down toenjoy the FLIRTATIONS OF CAPTAIN CAVENDISH, and I have the sceneryall to myself.
Of course it rained when we got to London, and there wasnothing to be seen but fog and umbrellas. We rested, unpacked,and shopped a little between the showers. Aunt Mary got me somenew things, for I came off in such a hurry I wasn't half ready.A white hat and blue feather, a muslin dress to match, and theloveliest mantle you ever saw. Shopping in Regent Street isperfectly splendid. Things seem so cheap, nice ribbons onlysixpence a yard. I laid in a stock, but shall get my glovesin Paris. Doesn't that sound sort of elegant and rich?
Flo and I, for the fun of it, ordered a hansom cab, whileAunt and Uncle were out, and went for a drive, though we learnedafterward that it wasn't the thing for young ladies to ride inthem alone. It was so droll! For when we were shut in by thewooden apron, the man drove so fast that Flo was frightened, andtold me to stop him. but he was up outside behind somewhere,and I couldn't get at him. He didn't hear me call, nor see meflap my parasol in front, and there we were, quite helpless,rattling away, and whirling around corners at a breakneck pace.At last, in my despair, I saw a little door in the roof, and onpoking it open, a red eye appeared, and a beery voice said...
"Now, then, mum?"
I gave my order as soberly as I could, and slamming downthe door, with an "Aye, aye, mum," the man made his horse walk,as if going to a funeral. I poked again and said, "A littlefaster," then off he went, helter-skelter as before, and weresigned ourselves to our fate.
Today was fair, and we went to Hyde Park, close by, for weare more aristocratic than we look. The Duke of Devonshire livesnear. I often see his footmen lounging at the back gate, andthe Duke of Wellington's house is not far off. Such sights as Isaw, my dear! It was as good as Punch, for there were fat dowagersrolling about in their red and yellow coaches, with gorgeousJeameses in silk stockings and velvet coats, up behind, and powderedcoachmen in front. Smart maids, with the rosiest childrenI ever saw, handsome girls, looking half asleep, dandies in queerEnglish hats and lavender kids lounging about, and tall soldiers,in short red jackets and muffin caps stuck on one side, lookingso funny I longed to sketch them.
Rotten Row means `Route de Roi', or the king's way, butnow it's more like a riding school than anything else. Thehorses are splendid, and the men, especially the grooms, ridewell, but the women are stiff, and bounce, which isn't accordingto our rules. I longed to show them a tearing Americangallop, for they trotted solemnly up and down, in their scanthabits and high hats, looking like the women in a toy Noah'sArk. Everyone rides--old men, stout ladies, little children--and the young folks do a deal of flirting here, I say a pairexchange rose buds, for it's the thing to wear one in thebutton-hole, and I thought it rather a nice little idea.
In the P.M. to Westminster Abbey, but don't expect me todescribe it, that's impossible, so I'll only say it was sublime!This evening we are going to see Fechter, which will be an appropriateend to the happiest day of my life.
It's very late, but I can't let my letter go in the morningwithout telling you what happened last evening. Who doyou think came in, as we were at tea? Laurie's English friends,Fred and Frank Vaughn! I was so surprised, for I shouldn't haveknown them but for the cards. both are tall fellows with whiskers,Fred handsome in the English style, and Frank much better,for he only limps slightly, and uses no crutches. They had heardfrom Laurie where we were to be, and came to ask us to theirhouse, but Uncle won't go, so we shall return the call, and seethem as we can. They went to the theater with us, and we didhave such a good time, for Frank devoted himself to Flo, andFred and I talked over past, present, and future fun as if wehad know each other all our days. Tell Beth Frank asked for her,and was sorry to hear of her ill health. Fred laughed when Ispoke of Jo, and sent his `respectful compliments to the big hat'.Neither of them had forgotten Camp Laurence, or the fun we hadthere. What ages ago it seems, doesn't it?
Aunt is tapping on the wall for the third time, so I muststop. I really feel like a dissipated London fine lady, writinghere so late, with my room full of pretty things, and my heada jumble of parks, theaters, new gowns, and gallant creatureswho say "Ah!" and twirl their blond mustaches with the trueEnglish lordliness. I long to see you all, and in spite of mynonsense am, as ever, your loving...AMY
In my last I told you about our London visit, how kind theVaughns were, and what pleasant parties they made for us. I enjoyedthe trips to Hampton Court and the Kensington Museum more thananything else, for at Hampton I saw Raphael's cartoons, andat the Museum, rooms full of pictures by Turner, Lawrence, Reynolds,Hogarth, and the other great creatures. The day in RichmondPark was charming, for we had a regular English picnic, andI had more splendid oaks and groups of deer than I could copy,also heard a nightingale, and saw larks go up. We `did' Londonto our heart's content, thanks to Fred and Frank, and were sorryto go away, for though English people are slow to take you in,when they once make up their minds to do it they cannot be outdonein hospitality, I think. The Vaughns hope to meet us inRome next winter, and I shall be dreadfully disappointed if theydon't, for Grace and I are great friends, and the boys verynice fellows, especially Fred.
Well, we were hardly settled here, when he turned up again,saying he had come for a holiday, and was going to Switzerland.Aunt looked sober at first, but he was so cool about it shecouldn't say a word. And now we get on nicely, and are veryglad he came, for he speaks French like a native, and I don'tknow what we should do without him. Uncle doesn't know tenwords, and insists on talking English very loud, as if itwould make people understand him. Aunt's pronunciation isold-fashioned, and Flo and I, though we flattered ourselvesthat we knew a good deal, find we don't, and are very gratefulto have Fred do the `parley vooing', as Uncle calls it.
Such delightful times as we are having! Sight-seeing frommorning till night, stopping for nice lunches in the gay cafes,and meeting with all sorts of droll adventures. Rainy days Ispend in the Louvre, revelling in pictures. Jo would turn upher naughty nose at some of the finest, because she has nosoul for art, but I have, and I'm cultivation eye and tasteas fast as I can. She would like the relics of great peoplebetter, for I've seen her Napoleon's cocked hat and graycoat, his baby's cradle and his old toothbrush, also MarieAntoinette's little shoe, the ring of Saint Denis, Charlemagne'ssword, and many other interesting things. I'll talk for hoursabout them when I come, but haven't time to write.
The Palais Royale is a heavenly place, so full of bijouterieand lovely things that I'm nearly distracted because I can'tbuy them. Fred wanted to get me some, but of course I didn'tallow it. Then the Bois and Champs Elysees are tres magnifique.I've seen the imperial family several times, the emperor an ugly,hard-looking man, the empress pale and pretty, but dressed inbad taste, I thought--purple dress, green hat, and yellow gloves.Little Nap is a handsome boy, who sits chatting to his tutor,and kissed his hand to the people as he passes in his four-horsebarouche, with postilions in red satin jackets and a mountedguard before and behind.
We often walk in the Tuileries Gardens, for they arelovely, though the antique Luxembourg Gardens suit me better.Pere la Chaise is very curious, for many of the tombs arelike small rooms, and looking in, one sees a table, withimages or pictures of the dead, and chairs for the mournersto sit in when they come to lament. That is so Frenchy.
Our rooms are on the Rue de Rivoli, and sitting on thebalcony, we look up and down the long, brilliant street. Itis so pleasant that we spend our evenings talking there whentoo tired with our day's work to go out. Fred is very entertaining,and is altogether the most agreeable young man I ever knew--except Laurie, whose manners are more charming. I wish Fredwas dark, for I don't fancy light men, however, the Vaughnsare very rich and come of an excellent family, so I won'tfind fault with their yellow hair, as my own is yellower.
Next week we are off to Germany and Switzerland, and aswe shall travel fast, I shall only be able to give you hastyletters. I keep my diary, and try to `remember correctly anddescribe clearly all that I see and admire', as Father advised.It is good practice for me, and with my sketchbook will giveyou a better idea of my tour than these scribbles.
Adieu, I embrace you tenderly.
My dear Mamma,
Having a quiet hour before we leave for Berne, I'll try totell you what has happened, for some of it is very important,as you will see.
The sail up the Rhine was perfect, and I just sat and enjoyedit with all my might. Get Father's old guidebooks andread about it. I haven't words beautiful enough to describe it.At Coblenz we had a lovely time, for some students from Bonn,with whom Fred got acquainted on the boat, gave us a serenade.It was a moonlight night, and about one o'clock Flo and I werewaked by the most delicious music under our windows. We flew up,and hid behind the curtains, but sly peeps showed us Fred andthe students singing away down below. It was the most romanticthing I ever saw--the river, the bridge of boats, the great fortressopposite, moonlight everywhere, and music fit to melt a heart of stone.
When they were done we threw down some flowers, and sawthem scramble for them, kiss their hands to the invisible ladies,and go laughing away, to smoke and drink beer, I suppose. Nextmorning Fred showed me one of the crumpled flowers in his vestpocket, and looked very sentimental. I laughed at him, and saidI didn't throw it, but Flo, which seemed to disgust him, for hetossed it out of the window, and turned sensible again. I'mafraid I'm going to have trouble with that boy, it begins tolook like it.
The baths at Nassau were very gay, so was Baden-Baden,where Fred lost some money, and I scolded him. He needs someoneto look after him when Frank is not with him. Kate saidonce she hoped he'd marry soon, and I quite agree with herthat it would be well for him. Frankfurt was delightful. Isaw Goeth's house, Schiller's statue, and Dannecker's famousAriadne. It was very lovely, but I should have enjoyed itmore if I had known the story better. I didn't like to ask, aseveryone knew it or pretended they did. I wish Jo would tellme all about it. I ought to have read more, for I find I don'tknow anything, and it mortifies me.
Now comes the serious part, for it happened here, and Fredhas just gone. He has been so kind and jolly that we all gotquite fond of him. I never thought of anything but a travelingfriendship till the serenade night. Since then I've begun tofeel that the moonlight walks, balcony talks, and daily adventureswere something more to him than fun. I haven't flirted,Mother, truly, but remembered what you said to me, and have donemy very best. I can't help it if people like me. I don't try tomake them, and it worries me if I don't care for them, though Josays I haven't got any heart. Now I know Mother will shake herhead, and the girls say, "Oh, the mercenary little wretch!", butI've made up my mind, and if Fred asks me, I shall accept him,though I'm not madly in love. I like him, and we get on comfortablytogether. He is handsome, young, clever enough, and veryrich--ever so much richer than the Laurences. I don't think hisfamily would object, and I should be very happy, for they are allkind, well-bred, generous people, and they like me. Fred, as theeldest twin, will have the estate, I suppose, and such a splendidone it is! A city house in a fashionable street, not so showyas our big houses, but twice as comfortable and full of solidluxury, such as English people believe in. I like it, for it'sgenuine. I've seen the plate, the family jewels, the old servants,and pictures of the country place, with its park, great house,lovely grounds, and fine horses. Oh, it would be all I shouldask! And I'd rather have it than any title such as girls snapup so readily, and find nothing behind. I may be mercenary,but I hate poverty, and don't mean to bear it a minute longerthan I can help. One of us must marry well. Meg didn't, Jowon't, Beth can't yet, so I shall, and make everything okay allround. I wouldn't marry a man I hated or despised. You may besure of that, and though Fred is not my model hero, he does verywell, and in time I should get fond enough of him if he was veryfond of me, and let me do just as I liked. So I've been turningthe matter over in my mind the last week, for it was impossible tohelp seeing that Fred liked me. He said nothing, but little thingsshowed it. He never goes with Flo, always gets on my side of thecarriage, table, or promenade, looks sentimental when we are alone,and frowns at anyone else who ventures to speak tome. Yesterdayat dinner, when an Austrian officer stared at us and then saidsomething to his friend, a rakish-looking baron, about `ein wonderschonesBlondchen', Fred looked as fierce as a lion, and cut his meatso savagely it nearly flew off his plate. He isn't one of thecool, stiff Englishmen, but is rather peppery, for he has Scotchblood in him, as one might guess from his bonnie blue eyes.
Well, last evening we went up to the castle about sunset, atleast all of us but Fred, who was to meet us there after going tothe Post Restante for letters. We had a charming time pokingabout the ruins, the vaults where the monster tun is, and thebeautiful gardens made by the elector long ago for his Englishwife. I liked the great terrace best, for the view was divine,so while the rest went to see the rooms inside, I sat there tryingto sketch the gray stone lion's head on the wall, with scarletwoodbine sprays hanging round it. I felt as if I'd got into aromance, sitting there, watching the Meckar rolling through thevalley, listening to the music of the Austrian band below, andwaiting for my lover, like a real storybook girl. I had a feelingthat something was going to happen and I was ready for it. Ididn't feel blushy or quakey, but quite cool and only a littleexcited.
By-and-by I heard Fred's voice, and then he came hurryingthrough the great arch to find me. He looked so troubled that Iforgot all about myself, and asked what the matter was. He saidhe'd just got a letter begging him to come home, for Frank wasvery ill. So he was going at once on the night train and onlyhad time to say good-by. I was very sorry for him, and disappointedfor myself, but only for a minute because he said, as he shook hands,and said it in a way that I could not mistake, "I shall soon come back,you won't forget me, Amy?"
I didn't promise, but I looked at him, and he seemed satisfied,and there was no time for anything but messages and good-byes,for he was off in an hour, and we all miss him very much.I know he wanted to speak, but I think, from something he oncehinted, that he had promised his father not to do anything ofthe sort yet a while, for is is a rash boy, and the old gentlemandreads a foreign daughter-in-law. We shall soon meet inRome, and then, if I don't change my mind, I'll say "Yes, thankyou," when he says "Will you, please?"
Of course this is all very private, but I wished you toknow what was going on. Don't be anxious about me, remember Iam your `prudent Amy', and be sure I will do nothing rashly.Send me as much advice as you like. I'll use it if I can. Iwish I could see you for a good talk, Marmee. Love and trust me.
Ever your AMY