When Irma awoke on her first morning in Rome, she felt that one of her real desires was gratified. She was in the city she most wished to see. Looking at her watch she found it was too early for breakfast, and she did not care to go down ahead of the others in this new, strange hotel. So, seated in an easy-chair, she tried to recall some of the incidents of her journey of the day before, the five hours’ ride that had seemed long, on account of the heat.
The country through which they passed had been interesting, though she had seen few of the picturesque peasants working in the fields that she expected to see on every side. In the distance, however, she had had glimpses of snow-clad mountains, and occasionally on a hill a monastery or castle, or even a small walled town.
Then across a vast plain to the right was the unmistakable dome of St. Peter’s. Yes, she could write home that at the first sight of Rome her heart had beaten quicker. After the sunny ride from the station through crowded streets all, even the indefatigable Uncle Jim, had been tired, too tired, after unpacking, to do anything but rest, until at five o’clock they had gone to the large hotel near by for afternoon tea.
“This isn’t Rome,” Aunt Caroline had said, as they sat there over their tea and cakes, listening to the music. “It is the Waldorf-Astoria, and these people moving about are largely Americans. To-morrow we shall see Rome.” “To-day is to-morrow,” murmured Irma, in her easy-chair, “and I wonder what we shall see first in Rome. I am sure I should never know where to begin.”
Aunt Caroline decided for her. Then when they first set out, she would not tell her just what they were to see until they had mounted the steps of an old casino; after passing through a little courtyard,—all that remained of the once fine Rospigliosi garden.
“Look up,” cried Aunt Caroline, as they stood in the large salon hung with pictures, and there on the ceiling, more beautiful than any reproduction, Irma saw the familiar Aurora, the godlike auburn-haired vision and the spirited horses: Apollo seen in a strong yellowish light, and the attendant hours in robes shading from blue to white, and from green to white, with reddish browns in the draperies of the nymph nearest him, and Aurora herself, a lovely figure, scattering flowers in his path. In the beautiful gallery, with its carvings and paintings, there were other fine pictures, but as she went away Irma still remembered only the Aurora.
The warm sun beat on their heads as they re-entered their carriage. “The Roman summer has begun,” said Aunt Caroline, “though it is only May. We must accustom ourselves now to a daily siesta and save our strength; but first for letters.”
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