To make my long story short, it happened to be colder next morning at Naples than it was in Germany. The sun shone; but the northeast wind, which the natives poetically call the Tramontane, was blowing, and the white smoke of Vesuvius rolled towards the sea. It would only last three days, it was very unusual, and all that. The next day it was colder, and the next colder yet. Snow fell, and blew about unmelted: I saw it in the streets of Pompeii.
The fountains were frozen, icicles hung from the locks of the marble statues in the Chiaia. And yet the oranges glowed like gold among their green leaves; the roses, the heliotrope, the geraniums, bloomed in all the gardens. It is the most contradictory climate. We lunched one day, sitting in our open carriage in a lemon grove, and near at hand the Lucrine Lake was half frozen over. We feasted our eyes on the brilliant light and color on the sea, and the lovely outlined mountains round the shore, and waited for a change of wind. The Neapolitans declare that they have not had such weather in twenty years. It is scarcely one’s ideal of balmy Italy.
Before the weather changed, I began to feel in this great Naples, with its roaring population of over half a million, very much like the sailor I saw at the American consul’s, who applied for help to be sent home, claiming to be an American. He was an oratorical bummer, and told his story with all the dignity and elevated language of an old Roman. He had been cast away in London. How cast away? Oh! it was all along of a boarding-house. And then he found himself shipped on an English vessel, and he had lost his discharge-papers; and “Listen, your honor,” said he, calmly extending his right hand, “here I am cast away on this desolate island with nothing before me but wind and weather.”
A DEAD CITY