At last, however, one fine day, with farewell notes and loaded with flowers, and with the prettiest of parting speeches, we tore ourselves away and were off for Vienna.
As Bee leaned back in the railway carriage with one glove missing, I looked to see her very low in her mind, but to my surprise she was smiling slowly.
“You don’t seem to mind leaving them very much,” I observed, curiously.
“I haven’t left them for long,” she replied, drawing her face into complacent lines. “They are both coming to Vienna on leave.”
“On leave?” I cried.
If Americans continue to flock to Europe in such numbers, the whole country will in time be as Americanised as the hotels are becoming. Vienna, with her beautiful Hotel Bristol, is such an advance in modern comfort from the best of her accommodations for travellers of a few years ago that she affords an excellent example, although for every steam-heater, modern lift, and American comfort you gain, you lose a quaintness and picturesqueness, the like of which makes Europe so worth while. The whole of civilised Europe is now engaged in a flurried debate as to the propriety of remodelling its travelled portions for the benefit of ease-loving American millionaires.
It was not the season when we arrived in Vienna, but we had letters to the old Countess von Schimpfurmann, who had been lady-in-waiting to the Empress Elizabeth when she first came to the court of Austria, a mere slip of a girl, with that marvellous hair of hers whose length was the wonder of Europe, dressed high for the first time, but oftenest flowing silkily to the hem of her skirt. The countess was something of an invalid, and happened to be in town when we arrived. Her husband, the old count, had been a very distinguished man in his day, standing high in the Emperor’s favour, and died full of years and honour, and more appreciated, so rumour had it, by his wife in his death than in his life.
We also had letters from a lady whose friendship Mrs. Jimmie made at Ischl, to her daughter-in-law, Baroness von Schumann, the baron being attached to an Austrian commission then in Italy; to several officers who were friends of our officers in Ischl, and, last but not least, to a little Hungarian, to whom I had a letter from America, who was so kind, so attentive, so fatherly to us, that he went by the name of “Little Papa”—a soubriquet which seemed to give him no end of pleasure.