The arrival at Naples was much less terrible than many persons had pictured it to Irma and Aunt Caroline. No one attempted to tear their chatelaine bags from them; the officers of the dogana were perfectly civil; no one tried to abstract their trunks.
It is true there was a long and apparently needless delay before their trunks were examined and marked, but they made light of this when once they were in the carriage on their way to the hotel.
The busy streets through which they first passed were broad and clean. Electric cars, hardly different from the American type, ran through them. The men and women on the sidewalks stepped along briskly. Aunt Caroline and Uncle Jim made constant contrasts between the Naples of the present and the past.
“The cholera of ’84 had one good result; it enabled the city fathers here to do away with many old slums, and put these new streets in their place.”
Their way eventually led up a broad avenue that mounted to the heights above the old city.
Once or twice, at a turn of the road, they had a view of the bay, and of Vesuvius in the distance.
“There, there, Irma,” cried Uncle Jim, when they first saw the mountain. “Let your heart beat as rapidly as it will; you now look on one of the wonders of the world.”
Their hotel was on ground so high that they entered it by a subway, and thence by elevator to the summit of a rock whereon stood the hotel. While Uncle Jim was securing rooms, the others, by a common impulse, rushed out on a balcony, of which they had caught a glimpse.
“Yes, this is Naples!” exclaimed Aunt Caroline, looking down on the lovely bay, clear and blue.
“But,” she continued, “Vesuvius is certainly changed—I did not realize that losing the top would so alter him, or her. What do you call volcanoes, Irma?”
“Them,” responded Irma, and even Marion smiled at her promptness.
While they were still looking at the bay and the distant shores of Sorrento and Amalfi, Irma suddenly felt two hands clasp themselves over her eyes.
“Don’t forget your friends just because you have a volcano to look at,” and then, unclasping her hands from Irma’s eyes, Muriel stepped in front, where Irma could see her.
Muriel was one of those who had left the Ariadne the night before, and as she had not mentioned where she should stay in Naples, Irma and her party were surprised to see her.
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