THE STORY OF GLASS
SARA WARE BASSETT
"The Story of Lumber" "The Story of Wool" "The Story of Leather" "The Story of Sugar" etc.
C. P. GRAY
THE PENN PUBLISHING COMPANY PHILADELPHIA 1917
COPYRIGHT 1916 BY THE PENN PUBLISHING COMPANY
To G. C.
a patient listener and a helpful critic I inscribe this book as a reminder of many happy hours which we spent together in the Old World
S. W. B.
I. A FRIENDLY FEUD 9
II. JEAN HAS A SURPRISE AND GIVES ONE 27
III. GIUSIPPE TELLS A STORY 50
IV. UNCLE BOB ENLARGES HIS PARTY 66
V. GIUSIPPE ENCOUNTERS AN OLD FRIEND 83
VI. UNCLE BOB AS STORY TELLER 99
VII. AMERICA ONCE MORE 121
VIII. JEAN THREATENS TO STEAL GIUSIPPE'S TRADE 140
IX. A REUNION 163
X. TWO UNCLES AND A NEW HOME 182
XI. JEAN'S TELEGRAM AND WHAT IT SAID 208
XII. JEAN AND GIUSIPPE EACH FIND A NICHE IN LIFE 220
THE THRONG OF MOVING WORKMEN Frontispiece
"EVERY ONE KNOWS ME AT THE GLASS WORKS" 47
"I KNEW HER IN VENICE" 95
"IT IS SHAPED TO THE FORM REQUIRED" 160
"THE MELT IS POURED OUT ON AN IRON TABLE" 202
"I WANT THESE ORDERS FILLED" 223
THE STORY OF GLASS
A FRIENDLY FEUD
Jean Cabot "lived around." She did not live around because nobody wanted her, however; on the contrary, she lived around because so many people wanted her. Both her father and mother had died when Jean was a baby and so until she was twelve years old she had been brought up by a cousin of her mother's. Then the cousin had married a missionary and had gone to teach the children in China, and China, as you will agree, was no place for an American girl to go to school. Therefore Jean was sent to Boston and put in charge of her uncle, Mr. Robert Cabot. Uncle Bob was delighted with the arrangement, for they were great friends, Jean and this boy-uncle of hers.
But no sooner did she arrive in Boston and settle down to live on Beacon Hill than up rose Uncle Tom Curtis, Jean's other uncle, who lived in Pittsburgh. He made a dreadful fuss because Jean had gone to Uncle Bob's to live. He wanted her out in Pittsburgh, and he wrote that Fraeulein Decker, who was his housekeeper, and had been governess to Jean's own mother, wanted her too.
That started Hannah, Uncle Bob's housekeeper.
"The very idea," she said, "of that German woman thinking they want Jean in Pittsburgh as much as we want her here in Boston. Didn't I bring up Jean's father, I'd like to know; and her Uncle Bob as well? I guess I can be trusted to bring up another Cabot. It's ridiculous—that's what it is—perfectly ree-diculous!" That was Hannah's favorite expression—"Ree-diculous!" "I'd like my job," went on Hannah, "sending that precious child to Pittsburgh where her white dresses would get all grimed up with coal soot."
But Hannah's scorn of Pittsburgh did not settle the matter.
Instead Mr. Carleton, Uncle Tom Curtis's lawyer, came to Boston as fast as he could get there and one afternoon presented himself at Uncle Bob's house on Beacon Hill. Uncle Bob was in the library when he arrived and the two men sat down before the fire, for it was a chilly day in early spring. After they had said a few pleasant things about the weather, and Uncle Bob had inquired for Uncle Tom, they really got started on what they wanted to say and my—how they did talk! It was all good-natured talk, for Uncle Bob liked Uncle Tom Curtis very much; nevertheless Uncle Bob and Uncle Tom's lawyer did talk pretty hard and pretty fast, for they had lots of things to say.
At last Uncle Bob Cabot rose from his leather chair and going to the fireplace gave the blazing logs a vicious little poke.
He was becoming nettled. Anybody could see that.
"The Curtises have not a whit more title to the child than I have," he burst out. "You are a lawyer, Carleton, and you know that. I am just as much Jean's uncle as Tom Curtis is; in fact I think I am more her uncle because I am her father's own brother. I'm a Cabot, and so is Jean. I should think that ought to be enough. Who would she live with, if not with the Cabots?"
Mr. Carleton cleared his throat.
"You certainly have a strong claim to the little girl," he agreed. "But you see my other client puts up an equally convincing story. In fact, he uses almost your identical words. He says he is Jean's mother's own brother, and argues no one can have a closer right than that."
"But what does he know about bringing up a little girl? Isn't he an old bachelor?"
"You are not married yourself, Mr. Cabot."
"Well, no. So I'm not. However, that's neither here nor there. Tom Curtis is fifty if he's a day. He is too old to bring up a child, Carleton."
"He complains that you are only thirty, and too young."
Mr. Robert Cabot, who was walking excitedly about the room, turned quickly.
"But I have Hannah. You do not know Hannah or you would feel differently. It is hard to tell you what Hannah is. You just have to know her. She is the mainspring of my household. Not only does she cook, clean, mend, and market for me; she does a score of things besides. Why, I couldn't live without her. She is one of those motherly souls whose wisdom is of the sages. She has been in our family since I was a baby. Most of my bringing up, in fact, was due to her and," he added whimsically, "behold the work of her hands!"
Mr. Carleton smiled.
"I cannot deny the product is good, Mr. Cabot. But again, all these arguments you put forth Mr. Tom Curtis also reechoes in behalf of his German Fraeulein. She too has been for years in the Curtis family and brought up their children, and Mr. Curtis feels that since she trained Jean's mother she is eminently the person to train Jean."
"The claims seem about equal."
"No, they're not. That's where you are wrong. Allowing everything else to be equal even you must grant that there is one serious objection of which you have not spoken. Mr. Tom Curtis lives in Pittsburgh! That is enough to overthrow the whole thing. Pittsburgh! Think of bringing up a child in Pittsburgh when she could be brought up in Boston. Boston, my good man, is intellectually—well, of course I do not wish to appear prejudiced, but you will, I am sure, admit that Boston——"
Mr. Bob Cabot dropped helplessly into his chair, leaving the sentence unfinished. There seemed to be no words in the English language adequate to express what, in Mr. Bob Cabot's estimation, Boston actually was.
Mr. Carleton started to laugh, but after glancing furtively at Mr. Bob Cabot he changed his mind and coughed instead.
"We all grant Boston is without an intellectual peer," he answered with a grave inclination of his head. "Even I, who was born in Indiana, grant that, although out in my state we think we run you a close second. Boston moreover has a background of which we in the West cannot boast—history, you know, and all that sort of thing. It would be a great privilege for little Miss Jean Cabot to receive a home and an education in Boston. There are, however, many fine things in Pittsburgh; it is not all soot, or panting factories."
"I suppose not. Jean's mother was a Pittsburgh girl, and certainly she was a wonderful type of woman. Yet you cannot tell what result a Boston environment might have had on such a nature as hers. She might have been even nearer perfection. Yet after all she was quite fine enough for human clay, Carleton, quite fine enough. And the little girl promises to be like her—an uncommonly sweet, gentle child, and pretty, too—very pretty. To send her to Pittsburgh—hang it all! Why must Tom Curtis live in Pittsburgh?"
"Mr. Curtis, as you seem to have forgotten, Mr. Cabot, is the owner of one of the largest plate glass factories in the country. He has built up a fortune by his business and he is no more ready to hurl his life's work to the winds and come to Boston to live than you are to toss aside your own business and move to Pittsburgh. And by the way, speaking of business, Mr. Cabot, if it does not seem an impertinent question, what is your business?"
"My business? Well, for a good many years my chief business seemed to be getting over a bad knee I got when playing tackle on the Harvard football eleven. We wiped up the ground with Yale, though, so it was worth it. Of late I spend more or less time in seeing that Hannah does not feed me too well and starve herself. Part of my business, too, is to argue with disagreeable old lawyers like yourself, Carleton." Mr. Bob Cabot chuckled. "When I am not doing some of these things and have the surplus time I am incidentally an interior decorator. Oh, I do not go out papering and painting; oh dear, no! I just tell other people how to spend a fortune furnishing their houses. I advise brocade hangings, Italian marbles and every sort of rare and beautiful thing, and since I do not have these luxuries to pay for I find my vocation a tremendously interesting one."
"You have set a worthy example in your own house," observed Mr. Carleton, glancing about with admiration.
"Oh, I've done a little—not much. I like the old landscape paper in this library; some of my antique furniture, too, is rather nice. I picked up many of the best pieces in the South. The house itself came to me from my father, and I have altered it very little, as I was anxious to keep its old colonial atmosphere. Hannah and I live here most peacefully with a waitress and inside man to help us. With Jean added to the household we shall have just the touch of young life that we need. I am very fond of children, and——"
"You seem very certain that Jean is to settle with you, Mr. Cabot. Now let me own up to something; although Mr. Tom Curtis sent me to have this talk with you and pave the way, it chances—no, chance is not the right word—on the contrary it is an intentional fact that Mr. Tom Curtis is at this very moment here in Boston."
Mr. Bob Cabot started.
"Tom Curtis here!"
"Yes. He is putting up at the University Club, and he wanted me to ask you if you would be so good as to dine there with him to-night."
"So he has come over to enter the fray himself, has he? Well, well! Why didn't he come right here? Of course I'll join him. I always liked Tom Curtis. The only things I have against him are that he will live in Pittsburgh—and that he wants Jean."
Mr. Carleton rose with satisfaction. At least part of his mission had been successfully accomplished. He could afford to overlook the slur on Pittsburgh which, as it happened, was his home as well as that of Mr. Tom Curtis.
"Then I'll call up Mr. Curtis," he said, "and tell him he may expect you. Will seven o'clock be all right?"
"Certainly. I suppose I shall not see you again, Carleton?"
Mr. Carleton hesitated.
"It is just possible that I may drop in on you and Mr. Curtis after dinner."
"Oh, I see. A plot."
"Not at all. I have some business to settle with Mr. Curtis before I return to Pittsburgh."
"Going back to that grimy coal hole, are you?" blustered Mr. Bob Cabot. "How you fellows can live there when you might spend your days in Bost——"
The door slammed.
Mr. Carleton was gone.
Shrugging his shoulders Mr. Bob Cabot glanced at the clock. He had just about time to dash off a necessary letter, dress, and get to the University Club.
"Hannah!" he called.
A small dark-haired woman appeared in the doorway. She had sharp little black eyes that twinkled a great deal, and she had a mouth that turned up at the corners; furthermore she had a plump figure neatly dressed in gray, and a white apron tied behind in an enormous and very spirited bow.
"Yes, Mr. Bob."
"Hannah, Mr. Tom Curtis is in town with a rascal of a lawyer. They have come to see about taking Jean to live in Pittsburgh."
"Pittsburgh! My soul, Mr. Bob! You'll not let her go, of course. Pittsburgh, indeed! Don't we know that Boston——"
"We certainly do, Hannah. Nobody knows what Boston is better than we do. But Mr. Tom Curtis unfortunately was not born in Boston."
"More's the pity! Still, I suppose he cannot be blamed for that. It wasn't really his fault."
Mr. Bob Cabot laughed and dropped a big, kindly hand on the shoulder of the woman beside him.
"I will try and impress upon him all that he has missed when I see him to-night. I am to dine with him at the University Club at seven."
"You're not dining out!" ejaculated Hannah in dismay.
"I'm afraid so."
"Oh, Mr. Bob! And fried chicken for dinner—just the way you like it, too."
"I'm sorry, Hannah."
"And me browning all those sweet potatoes!"
"I'm lots more disappointed than you are—truly I am. It can't be helped, though. Now let me finish this letter and you go and lay out my dress shirt and studs and things, or I'll be late."
Hannah darted from the room.
"I made you a Brown Betty pudding, too, Mr. Bob!" she called over her shoulder. "But no matter. There is no evil without some good; your trousers are freshly pressed and handsome as pictures—if I do say it as shouldn't. I'll lay 'em out for you, and your dinner coat as well. But to think of that pudding! Why couldn't Mr. Curtis have invited you the night the beef stew was scorched."
* * * *
Promptly on the stroke of seven Uncle Bob Cabot presented himself at the University Club, where Uncle Tom Curtis was waiting for him, and the two men grasped hands cordially. How big Uncle Tom Curtis looked and, despite Hannah's remarks, how rosy and how clean! And what a nice smile he had! The dinner was extraordinarily good. The filet was done to a turn, and there was just enough seasoning on the mushrooms. As for the grilled potatoes, even Hannah herself couldn't have improved upon them. An old Harvard "grad" came over from the next table and greeted Uncle Tom Curtis, telling him he did not look a day older than when he was in college, and in spite of his gray hairs Uncle Tom Curtis seemed to believe it. Then they talked of the last Harvard boat race; the winning eleven; the D. K. E. with its initiation pranks; and the old professors. And after the other man had left the waiter brought coffee which was deliciously hot and cheese that was exactly ripe enough. Uncle Tom Curtis seemed to have no end of stories at which Uncle Bob Cabot laughed until he was very red in the face, and afterward Uncle Bob told some stories and Uncle Tom Curtis sat back in his chair and laughed and wiped his eyes and mopped his forehead. Then Uncle Bob said that of course the Club was all very well, but he should insist on Uncle Tom's tossing his things into his grip and coming over to Beacon Hill with him to finish up his Boston visit.
They did not talk about Jean any more that night, but the next morning after breakfast they went at the discussion and were just in the midst of it when who should walk in but Jean herself. She had been spending two or three days with a friend of her mother who lived in the suburbs.
"Uncle Bob!" she called as she dashed her hat and muff down upon the settle in the hall. "Uncle Bob! Oh, I had a perfectly lovely time. And what do you think! Mrs. Chandler has three darling Irish terrier puppies, and she is going to give me one if you are willing that I should have it. You do like puppies, don't you? I know you'd like these anyway; they are so blinky, and fat, and little."
Tossing her coat on top of the hat and muff she ran up the front stairs and into the library.
"Why, Uncle Tom Curtis!" she cried. "Whatever brought you here?"
Fluttering to the big man's side she gave him a prodigious hug and at the same time dropped a butterfly kiss on the top of his shiny bald head. The next instant she was perched on the arm of Uncle Bob's chair, eyeing her two uncles expectantly.
"You both look so hot and so—well, almost cross, you know. What is the matter?"
"We are talking about you, honey," ventured Uncle Bob after a short, uneasy silence.
"About me! And it makes you look as solemn and ruffled up as this? Whatever have I done? Did Mrs. Chandler telephone you about the puppy? Don't worry. I do not mind if I don't have it—really I don't."
"No, dear, it wasn't the puppy. You shall have all the puppies you want so far as I'm concerned," Uncle Bob answered, stroking the tiny hand that nestled in his. "No, your Uncle Tom and I were talking about where you are to live."
"But I thought I was to live here."
"I thought so too," agreed Uncle Bob. "Uncle Tom, though, is not satisfied with that arrangement. He says he wants you to come and live with him."
"But I couldn't leave you, Uncle Bob—you know that; at least, not for all the time. If there were only two of me and I could live with each of you how nice it would be. Of course I'd love to be with Uncle Tom sometimes. Why couldn't I live with one of you part of the time and with the other the rest of the year? I'd rather be here in the summer, though, I think, because it's near the ocean."
How simple the great tangle over which the two men had argued suddenly seemed!
"Jean has settled it herself!" Uncle Tom exclaimed. "It shall be Pittsburgh winters and Boston summers. I wonder we didn't solve it that way in the beginning."
So everybody was pleased. Even Hannah admitted that if that was the best that could be done she would put up with it; but she made Uncle Tom Curtis promise to lay in a big supply of soap.
"You must scrub her face and hands three times a day, and at least once between meals if she is to live in Pittsburgh," remarked she. "And please remember to have the grime soaked out of her white dresses, Mr. Curtis. Borax and a little ammonia will do it," she concluded seriously.
"We will wash not only the clothes in ammonia water, but Jean if you say so, Hannah," promised Uncle Tom.
At this everybody laughed.
Then by and by they had luncheon, and Uncle Tom Curtis said it was a much better meal than he had had at the Club the night before; and Hannah said that maybe Pittsburgh was not so black as it was painted; and Uncle Bob said he'd send the inside man to the Chandlers' to get the puppy that very afternoon. And he did. And the puppy came, and he was very small, and very fat, and very wobbly. His head was much too large for him and so were his feet.
"You must name him Beacon Hill and call him Beacon for short, Jean," said Uncle Tom Curtis—which, coming from Uncle Tom Curtis, who thought there was no place on earth like Pittsburgh, was a generous condescension.
JEAN HAS A SURPRISE AND GIVES ONE
Uncle Tom Curtis returned to Pittsburgh the next day, leaving Jean and Beacon to stay with Uncle Bob until October. It was now April, and on the Common and Public Garden the trees, which were beginning to break into delicate foliage, were invaded by scores of scampering gray squirrels so tame that they would eat out of one's hand. Often in the morning when Jean walked to the office with Uncle Bob she would stop to feed these hungry little creatures and also the flocks of friendly pigeons clustering along the walks. Of course Beacon had to be left behind when the family went on such strolls, for he was far too fond of chasing everything he saw; afternoon was his gala time. Then, while Jean flew on roller skates along the broad asphalt Esplanade bordering the Charles River, Beacon would race up and down dodging the skaters, playing with the children, and nearly tripping up the throngs of nurse-maids who trundled their wee charges in the bright sunshine.
How quickly the days passed!
Already the Beacon Hill house had become a real home, and Uncle Bob dearer each moment she stayed in it.
"You know, Uncle Bob, you would be really perfect if only you liked dolls and could tie hair ribbons," said Jean teasingly.
Uncle Bob shook his head ruefully.
"I never could care for sawdust people," said he, "when there were so many interesting real ones in the world. As for the hair ribbons, perhaps I might learn to tie those in time, although I doubt if I ever could make as perky a bow as Hannah does. I like the perk but I haven't the faintest idea how to get it."
She and her uncle had many a joke together.
"He is better at a joke than Uncle Tom is," confided Jean to Hannah.
In fact Uncle Bob joked so much that it was hard to tell when he was serious, and so one day when he came into the library where Jean was and swept all the dolls on the couch over into the corner, laughingly demanding how Jean would like to go to Europe, she paid no attention to him.
"Seems to me you are not a very enthusiastic or grateful young woman," said he at last tweaking a curl that hung low on her cheek. "Here I am inviting you to tour the world with me and all you say is: 'I'll think about it!' How's that for gratitude?"
"If you had any intention of taking me I might be more grateful," Jean answered, fastening the gown of the doll she was dressing, and holding her at arm's length to enjoy the effect.
"But I am entirely serious, my young friend; I never was more so. I am imploring you to go to Italy, for go I must, and I have no mind to leave you behind."
"To Italy? To real Italy, Uncle Bob? Do you mean it?"
"I surely do, dear child. Behold me, solemn as an owl. Ah, now you begin to listen. It would serve you right if I should refuse to take such an ungrateful lady. What say you? Should you like to go?"
"Like it! I'd love it! I've never been on an ocean trip in all my life."
"You may not care to go on another after you've been on this one," chuckled Uncle Bob. "However, the fact remains that we are going. I have charge of decorating a very beautiful house in the suburbs and I am going over to Florence to order some marble stairways and fireplaces. That is my excuse. Incidentally we can make a pleasant trip out of it and see many places besides Italy."
"Could we go to Venice?" burst out Jean. "Venice is in Italy, isn't it? I'd like of all places to see Venice with its water streets and its gondolas."
"Yes, honey, you certainly shall see Venice and ride in all the gondolas you like."
"Splendid!" cried Jean, clapping her hands. "When can we start? Let's go right away," and springing up from the couch she whirled toward the door.
"Slowly, slowly!" protested Uncle Bob. "Come back here to me a moment, you flyaway. Many things must be decided before we sail for Italy. In the first place there is Hannah; what shall we do with her?"
"Oh, Hannah must come along with us," Jean answered. "She'll have to. We never could think of going to Europe and leaving good old Hannah, who is so kind to both of us, now could we? Besides, she has to fix my hair every morning, and mend my clothes. I'd be coming to pieces all over Europe if Hannah didn't go."
"Well, then, that settles it. Hannah goes. I never could consent to escort a young lady who might drop to pieces at any moment and strew her belongings all along the route from Italy to Scotland. Now about Esther, the waitress. She wants to go West and visit her brother; this will be just the chance. Suppose we tie a long string to her and let her go. Then we come to Beacon."
"Beacon would go with us, of course," Jean replied quickly. "You may be sure I'd never leave Beacon at home. I'd rather not go myself."
"But, girlie, we couldn't very well——"
"Why, Uncle Bob! You don't mean to say you thought of leaving Beacon! If you did I simply sha'n't go. That's all there is about it. I shall never, never be parted from Beacon—never!"
"Listen, dear. Beacon wouldn't enjoy going. We could not get for him the food to which he is accustomed, nor would they admit him to the picture galleries which we shall visit. I doubt if he would even care for the gondolas."
"No, I'm sure he would not like the gondolas," admitted Jean smiling faintly, "because Hannah and I tried him on the swan-boats in the Public Garden and he hated them; he just barked and snarled all the time, and wriggled about so in my arms that he nearly went overboard and carried me with him."
"That's just it! That is precisely the way he would feel on shipboard. Now my plan is this. We'll send him out to Pittsburgh for Uncle Tom to take care of until you get back. Then when you go out there in October your doggie will be nicely settled in his other home and waiting for you. In fact," confessed Uncle Bob a little sheepishly, "I wrote Uncle Tom and asked how he would feel about adding a puppy to his household. This is his answer:
"'European plan excellent. Send Beacon. Next best thing to Jean.'"
"Dear Uncle Tom! He is awfully good, isn't he?"
"Yes, he is. I fancy he will decide so, too, when he finds all his sofa cushions torn, and his shoes chewed up," chuckled Uncle Bob. "Let him take his turn at it."
Beacon provided for, the remainder of the European plan seemed simple enough. To be sure there was Hannah, who at first flatly refused to be separated from the golden dome of the State House or from the Boston "Evening Transcript." At last, however, after much persuasion she consented to suffer these deprivations for the common good, and brought herself to purchasing the necessary clothing for Jean and herself. To these she added French, German and Italian dictionaries because, as she explained: "We might get lost or parted from your Uncle Bob somehow, and you never can tell what will happen in those heathen countries where the poor people cannot speak English. How men and women can live in places where they talk those dreadful languages and use that queer money when they might come over here to Boston——"
"That's right, Hannah," agreed Uncle Bob, playfully urging her on.
"And all that strange weather! Why, I read only the other day that in Italy they just have summer all the year round. So foolish! They never get any snow at all—think of that! It is such a slack and lazy way to do always to be wearing one set of things and never getting out any winter flannels. I shouldn't know where I was if I didn't chalk off the seasons by my house cleaning, preserving, getting out the furs, and putting them away. I just know those Italians live without any system. How could they be expected to have any when it's summer all the time?"
She sniffed scornfully.
In fact Hannah sniffed a good many times before the great ship which was carrying them to Naples docked beneath the shadow of Vesuvius. The staterooms she termed little coops, and the berths nothing more nor less than shelves.
"When I go to bed, Mr. Bob, I feel exactly as if I was a sheet put away in the linen closet."
Uncle Bob and Jean both laughed. Hannah kept them royally entertained.
"As for these clocks that strike every hour but the right one—I've nothing to say," she went on. "If the captain prefers to ring two when he means nine, well and good. He runs the ship and it is his lookout, although I will say it is hard on the rest of us. He explains that it has something to do with the watch—whose watch I don't know; his own, I suppose. Evidently he has some queer way of telling time, some theory he is free to work out when he is here in the middle of the ocean away from land. Be glad, Jean, that you learned to tell time properly, and that you live with people who are content to use the old method and do not set themselves up to invent a system that is a puzzle to every one but themselves."
Thus Hannah measured every new experience, applying to it the Beacon Hill standard. If it conformed to what was done in Boston it was quite correct, but if it varied in the least it was condemned as "ridiculous."
To Jean, on the contrary, the voyage was one of unending delight. She proved herself an excellent sailor, and was never tired of playing shuffle-board on the deck or pacing to and fro with Uncle Bob in the fresh breeze. And when at last Gibraltar was reached and she actually beheld the coasts of Spain, Africa and Italy, her wonder grew until she said she had to pinch herself to be sure she was alive and not dreaming. It was a journey of marvels.
"I feel exactly as if I had gone down the rabbit hole with Alice," she exclaimed, squeezing Uncle Bob's arm as they were disembarking at Naples.
Uncle Bob was in such a hurry to reach Florence that the travelers did not stay long in Naples—only long enough to visit the famous Aquarium with its myriad of strange sea creatures, and to take a flying glimpse of the Museum. It was at the latter place that Jean saw the celebrated Naples Vase which, Uncle Bob told her, was found over a hundred years ago in a tomb in Pompeii.
"It probably was made by very skilful Grecian workmen about the year 70 A. D. Think how wonderful it is that there were artists living many thousands of years ago who knew how to make such a beautiful thing. Look closely at it, Jean, for it is one of the art treasures of the world."
The vase, scarcely more than a foot in height, was of dark blue glass, and had upon it in white a design of delicate Grecian figures.
"It was first made with a coating of white opaque glass entirely over the blue," Uncle Bob explained. "Then the artist with extreme care and some sharp instrument cut this beautiful picture of the harvest gatherers. Notice, too, how the pattern is repeated on the handles. It is a pity the base or foot of the vase is missing; it was probably of gold and was doubtless stolen at some time. There is now made in England a kind of pottery called Wedgwood, which has much this same effect although, of course, it is far less perfectly fashioned."
"I'm glad I do not have this thing to dust," Hannah observed grimly.
"Well you may be, Hannah," Uncle Bob retorted, "for the vase is worth thousands of dollars. There are in the world several very famous glass vases—this is one; the Auldjo Vase, also from Pompeii and now in the British Museum, is another; and the Portland Vase, which is there too, makes a third. The design on the Portland Vase is considered even finer than this. We shall see it and I will tell you its history when we get to London."
What weren't they to see!
Jean's head was a jumble of fairy anticipations—of Crown Jewels, palaces, gondolas, famous pictures, and scenes of undreamed of beauty. The Tower of London merged itself with visions of Napoleon's Tomb, while in and out of her mind flitted fragmentary pictures of Notre Dame and the Vatican. Everything seemed so old!
"At first I stood with my mouth open when I was told things were built, or dug up, or made hundreds of years ago," laughed Jean. "But now I find I am growing fussy, and unless a thing is thousands of years old it scarcely seems worth looking at. How horribly new they must think us in America! Even Bunker Hill and the State House, Hannah, are very modern," she added teasingly.
"Now, Jean, if this trip to Europe is going to make you turn up your nose at your native land the best thing you can do is to face round and go straight back home," was Hannah's severe reply.
"There, there, you dear old thing! Don't worry. I love my America, but you should have learned by this time that I never can resist seeing you bristle. But even you, bigoted as you are, must admit that a great deal seems to have happened in the world before we on the other side of the sea were alive at all."
"Much of it," observed Hannah with dignity, "was nothing to be proud of, and it's as well they kept it on this side of the ocean."
From Naples Uncle Bob whirled his bewildered charges to Rome and then to Florence, and while he was busy transacting business Hannah and Jean were put in charge of a courier and taken to see so many pictures and churches that Hannah begged never to be shown another masterpiece or another spire so long as she lived.
"Bless your heart, Mr. Bob, if you were to lean the Sistine Madonna right up against the table in my room I wouldn't turn my head to look at it. And as for churches—I wouldn't accept Westminster Abbey as a gift. Tell 'em not to urge it on me, for I wouldn't take it even if I could get it through the customs free of duty. The things I'd like best at this very minute would be an east wind and some baked beans."
But when they reached Venice and saw their first gondola even Hannah was forced to admit that it far outshone the Boston swan-boats. The travelers arrived late at night, and on passing through the station came out on a broad platform where, instead of cabs and cars, numberless gondolas floated, illumined by twinkling lights.
"Oh!" murmured Jean in a hushed whisper.
It was indeed a beautiful sight. Before them a stretch of water flooded by the full moon wandered off into a multitude of tiny canals shut in on either side by murky dwellings of stone or brick. In and out of these dim little avenues plied boatmen who shouted a warning in shrill Italian as they rounded the turns.
Uncle Bob lost no time in summoning a gondolier, and soon the party were being swept along by the sturdy strokes of a swarthy Venetian who, Hannah declared in an undertone, looked like nothing so much as a full-fledged brigand. She could not be persuaded to take her hand off her luggage, but sat clutching it with all her strength until she arrived at the hotel. Jean, on the other hand, was too excited by the novelty of the scene to know or care what the boatman looked like. Her one fear seemed to be that if she went to bed and allowed herself to fall asleep the wonderful water streets might vanish forever. It took all Uncle Bob's pleading to make her close her eyes. At last, however, she did and when she opened them in the morning her very first thought was to fly to the window and see if the canals were still there.
No, it was not a dream!
There were the moving gondolas, the narrow water streets, and the glorious dome of Del Salute directly opposite across the sparkling expanse of the Grand Canal.
Jean suppressed a cry of delight, and scurried into her clothes.
"Now, Uncle Bob," she announced at breakfast, "I want to go straight out in a gondola the minute I have finished my chocolate and rolls. I think I am pretty good to stop for them at all. I want to go and stay until noon. May I?"
"Well, let me think a second, little girl," replied Uncle Bob. "I am afraid I must run over to the bankers' directly after breakfast, so I won't be able to start right away; I can, however, take you later." Then as he saw Jean's face fall he added, "You and Hannah may go early if you like and come back for me at eleven. How will that do?"
"It will do beautifully only I wish you could be with us. How shall we know how to get a boatman, or tell him where to take us? I am sure I couldn't, and Hannah's Italian is not very good, although," with a mischievous smile, "I suppose she could use her dictionary."
"I will arrange everything with a gondolier before I leave for the bankers'," Uncle Bob answered. "Now I must be running along. Suppose the gondola is here at half-past nine."
"The earlier the better," cried Jean.
Promptly at the hour set the gondola glided up to the steps of the Grand Canal Hotel where Jean and Hannah were waiting. It was an unusually beautiful gondola, with scarlet curtains and a gilded prow carved in the shape of a woman's head.
Jean sprang forward, all eagerness, her eyes on the magic apparition. Then suddenly her foot slipped on the slime left by the tide on the marble step, and she would have fallen into the water had not a young boy, with rare presence of mind, leaped forward and caught her.
Another moment and Hannah, white with fright, had the girl in her arms.
"Oh, my dear child!" she wailed. "My precious lamb! Thank goodness, you are safe. Think if you'd been drowned before you had had a chance to see Venice at all! But you are quite safe now, honey. Don't be frightened. Young man," and she turned to the boy, "that was a good deed of yours. What is your name? But there—how silly to be asking him when he can't understand a word I'm saying. I forgot no one could understand anything in this queer, upside-down town where the streets are water when they ought to be land."
To her utter astonishment, however, the boy answered in English, which, although slightly broken, was perfectly intelligible.
"My name is Giusippe Cicone."
"Say it again," demanded Hannah. "Say it more slowly."
"Giusippe," echoed Hannah, "Giusippe Cicone. There! Giusippe Cicone. I got it better that time. Giusippe Cicone. Now I have it! Well, Master Giusippe Cicone, it was very good of you to save this little lady from a ducking in your canal which, if I may be permitted to say so, is not as clean as it might be. We are very much obliged to you, and here is some money to pay you for being so quick."
The boy shook his head.
"I could not take money for saving the senorita from the water," protested he proudly. "I was glad to do it. I could not take pay."
"Well, I thank you very much," Jean ventured shyly.
He helped Hannah and the girl into the waiting gondola and then stood on the steps shading his eyes with his brown hand as the gondolier made his way to the oar.
"Perhaps you can tell us where we can find you if we should want to see you again," called Hannah as the distance between them widened.
"Certainly. I am at Murano." He pointed across the lagoon to a distant island.
"Yes, I work there. Every one knows me at the glass works."
He waved his hand and was soon lost to sight.
"I do wonder who he is," speculated Jean, who had now quite recovered from her fright and could smile at the memory of the episode. "And how strange that he understood English!"
"I don't call it strange," Hannah responded. "English is the only sensible language, and probably this boy realizes it. I think it speaks well for his discrimination."
"Anyway, he was a gentleman not to take the money; and yet he looked poor," reflected the girl.
"One may be a gentleman despite poverty, thank goodness," Hannah said. "Your uncle will probably insist upon hunting him up and thanking him. I can't see, Jean, how you came to slip that way. Wasn't the boatman holding on to you?" and for the tenth time every detail of the disaster had to be gone over.
"Well, all I can say is that if anything had happened to you I never should have dared show my face to your Uncle Bob. And think of your Uncle Tom at home—he would have things to say! They would both blame me even if it was not my fault," sighed Hannah.
"Of course it wasn't your fault. How could you possibly be to blame if I was so heedless as to rush ahead without looking where I was going? I'm always doing that, Hannah; you know I am. I am always in such a hurry to enjoy the things I like that I never can wait a moment. This is a good lesson for me. I just hope the salt water won't spoil my new tan shoes. Come! Let us talk of something pleasanter. Isn't it too perfectly lovely out here? Look back at the shore and see how St. Mark's and the Campanile stand out. I know those already, because I remember seeing pictures of them in my geography. Oh, I am so glad we are here! I am sure we shall have a wonderful time in Venice even if I did begin by nearly drowning myself in the canal."
"It is all very well to laugh about it now," Hannah answered solemnly, "but it was no laughing matter when it happened—no laughing matter!"
GIUSIPPE TELLS A STORY
When Uncle Bob heard of Jean's adventure he lost no time, you may be sure, in hunting up Giusippe Cicone. A note was sent to Murano asking that the lad call at the hotel; and as the following day chanced to be a festa day the glass works were closed and Giusippe presented himself directly after breakfast. He was neatly although poorly clothed, and had he had no other claim to Mr. Cabot's good will than his frank face that would have won him a welcome. Perhaps added to Uncle Bob's gratitude there was, too, a measure of the artist's joy in the beautiful; for Giusippe was handsome. Thick brown hair clustered about the well-formed head; his eyes were of soft hazel; and into his round olive cheek was steeped the rich crimson of the southern sun. More than all this, he was a well bred lad—manly, courteous, and proud. When Mr. Cabot began to thank him for his service to Jean the boy made light of what he had done and once more refused to accept any reward.
Uncle Bob's curiosity was aroused.
Never before had he met an Italian who would not take money when it was offered him.
"Perhaps you would be willing, young man, to tell us more about yourself," said he at last. "You work in the glass factory, you say. Have you been long there?"
Giusippe smiled, showing two rows of dazzling white teeth.
"So long, senor, that I cannot remember when I was not there. And before me was my father, and my grandfather; and before that his father; and so on back for years and years. There was always a Cicone at Murano. For you must know, senor, that glass-making has ever been the great art of Venice. When paintings began to take the place of the glass mosaics then came the height of fame for Venetian glass. For you will remember that for many years before artists could paint people made pictures out of bits of glass, and in this way represented to those who had no books scenes from the Bible or from history. Then wonderful painters were born in Italy and they crowded out the mosaic makers, who had previously decorated the churches, palaces, and public buildings. The making of glass mosaics died out and it was then that the Venetian artisans turned their attention and their skill to the making of other glass things—beads, mirrors, drinking cups, and ornaments. In fact," went on Giusippe, "there soon became so many glass houses in Venice that the Great Council feared a terrible fire might sweep the island, and in 1291, with the exception of a few factories for small articles, all the glass houses were banished to the island of Murano a mile distant where, if fire came, no destruction could be done to the city of Venice itself. Those factories which were allowed to remain had to have a space of fifteen paces around them. By the decree of the Council the other glass houses were torn down."
"And it was thus that your great-great-great-great-great-grandfather was driven to Murano, was it?" queried Mr. Cabot.
"Yes. He was a member of the guild of bead-makers. For you know, senor, that in those days workmen were banded together in guilds, and kept the mysteries of their trade to themselves. The precious secret was handed down from father to son. So it was with my great-great-great-great-great-grandfather."
Giusippe drew himself up.
"Oh, it was a grand thing to be a glass-maker in those days, senor!" continued the boy, his eyes glowing. "The members of the guilds were so honored in Venice that they were considered equal in birth to the noblest families. They were gentlemen. A titled woman felt only pride in uniting herself with a glass-maker's family."
"Perhaps that is what your great-great-great-great-great-grandmother did," Jean said, half aloud.
"Yes, senorita," was Giusippe's simple answer. "And they say, too, she was beautiful. My ancestor was of the pater-nostereri; he was a maker of beads for rosaries. Then there were the margaritai, who made small beads; and the fuppialume, who made large blown beads. Each man was a skilled artist, you see, and did some one special thing. The phiolari made vases, cups, and glass for windows; the cristallai optical glass; and the specchiai mirrors. No strangers were allowed to visit the glass works, and all apprentices must pass a rigid examination not only as to their skill, but as to their previous personal history. In 1495 the glass houses at Murano extended for a mile along a single street and the great furnaces roared night and day, so you can imagine how much glass was made on the island."
"My!" gasped Jean breathlessly.
"Absolute loyalty to the art was demanded of every man engaged in it," Giusippe said. "And you can see, senor, that this was necessary. Any workman carrying the secrets elsewhere was first warned to return to Venice; then, if he refused, his nearest relative was imprisoned; if he still refused to obey he was tracked down and killed. Often glass-makers were found in Padua, Ravenna, and other places stabbed through the heart, and the word Traitor was fastened to the dagger."
"Do not tremble, senorita," Giusippe said. "It was a just punishment. You see the Council of Ten felt that the prosperity of the Venetians depended upon keeping their art away from all the outside world which was so eager to learn it. All knew the penalty for disloyalty. The decree read:
"'If any workman conveys his art to a strange country to the detriment of the Republic he shall be sent an order to return to Venice. Failing to obey his nearest of kin shall be imprisoned. If he still persists in remaining abroad and plying his art an emissary shall be charged to kill him.'
"In this way the secrets of glass-making were kept in Venice and the Republic soon became famous and prosperous. As the reputation of the Venetian glass-makers spread an immense trade was established. My grandfather has often told me of the great numbers of beads which were sent everywhere throughout the East—sometimes to Africa and even to India. In 1764 twenty-two great furnaces were kept busy supplying the beads that were demanded. Frequently, they say, as many as forty-four thousand barrels were turned out in a single week."
"Why, I should think that everybody in the world would have been covered with beads!" Jean exclaimed, smiling.
"Ah, I can tell you something stranger than that, senorita. So popular did Venetian glass of every variety become that a foreign prince created a great sensation by appearing in Paris with curls of finely spun black glass."
Jean and Uncle Bob laughed merrily.
"I think myself he was silly," Giusippe declared, echoing their amusement. "He, however, was not alone in his admiration for the beautiful and ingenious workmanship of the people of my country, for even as far back as 1400 Richard the Second of England gave permission to our Venetian merchants to sell glass aboard their galleys, duty free; and King Henry the Eighth owned as many as four or five hundred Venetian drinking goblets, vases, dishes, and plates, some of which, they say, are still in the British Museum."
"We must see them when we go to London, mustn't we, Uncle Bob?" cried Jean eagerly.
"We surely must. All this is very interesting, Giusippe. You do well to remember so much of your country's history," said Mr. Cabot.
"I am proud of it, senor. Besides I have heard it many, many times. My people were never tired of telling over and over the story of the old days; the golden days of Venice, my father called them. The Republic might have retained its fame much longer had not some of our countrymen been persuaded to go to other lands and sell their secrets for gold. It was thus that the art of making mirrors was taken into France and Germany."
"Tell us about it, Giusippe," pleaded Jean.
"Why, as I think I told you, the Venetians began to make mirrors as early as 1300. Of course, senorita, they were crude affairs—not at all like the fine ones of to-day, but to people who had nothing better they were marvels. And indeed they were both clever and beautiful. For you must remember that ages ago there was no such thing as a looking-glass. Men and women could only see their reflections in streams, pools, and fountains. Then the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans began to make mirrors of burnished metal, using bits of brass or bronze often beautifully decorated on the back with classic Grecian figures. Rich women carried such mirrors fastened to their girdles or sometimes instead had them fitted into small, shallow boxes of carved ivory; sometimes too the mirror was set in a case of gold, silver, enamel, or ebony with intricate decoration on the outside. That was the first of mirror-making."
"Later the Venetians experimented and began backing pieces of glass with mercury or tin. The surface was first covered with tinfoil and then rubbed down until smooth; then the whole was coated with quicksilver, which formed an amalgam with the tin. It does no harm to tell you about it now, senorita," added Giusippe a little sadly, "for every one knows. This process was slow and unsatisfactory, but it was the best the workmen then knew. These mirrors they set in elaborate frames of glass, silver, carved wood, mother-of-pearl, coral, tarsi, or into frames of painted wood. Some of them were sent by Venetian nobles as gifts to kings and queens of other countries; often they were purchased by royalties themselves. You can see many in the museums of France, Germany, or England."
"We will hunt them up, Jean," Uncle Bob declared.
"I'd love to see them," replied the girl.
"My father has told me that there were frequent quarrels between the glass-makers and the mirror-framers because, you see, the framers wanted to learn the secret of making the mirrors, and the mirror-makers were jealous of the skill of the framers and feared the frame would be more beautiful than the mirror itself and so overshadow it. Then in 1600 the French stole from our people the secret of mirror-making and began turning out mirrors not only as good, but in some respects better than the Venetian ones."
"Oh, Giusippe, how did they steal the secret?" Jean cried. "How dreadful!"
"It was through the treachery of our own countrymen, senorita," Giusippe confessed. "Yes, sorry as I am to say so, it was our own fault. The French, you see, as well as the Venetians, had long been experimenting with glass-making and since it was considered there, as here, an art, many penniless Huguenot gentlemen who had lost their fortunes took it up; for one might be a glass-maker and still retain his noble rank. Such was Bernard Palissy——"
"The potter!" interrupted Jean. "I learned all about him in my history."
"So? Then you know how he struggled for years to solve the secret of making the enamel he had seen on a Saracen cup. Palissy also made some fine old stained glass, although few people seem to know this. Many another Frenchman tried to discover the Venetian's great secret. They sought to bribe our people to tell the process, but without success. Then Colbert, the chief minister under Louis the Fourteenth, wrote the French ambassador at Venice that he must obtain for France some Venetian workmen. The ambassador was upset enough, as you may imagine, when he received the order. He said he could not do it. He dared not. If found out he would be thrown into the sea."
"He ought to have been!" Jean cried. "He would have deserved it."
"I think so too," Uncle Bob agreed.
"It would have been far better for Venice had he been drowned in the Adriatic," Giusippe answered slowly. "But he wasn't. Instead he began cautiously to look about. There are always in the world, senor, men who have no pride in their fatherland and can be bought with money. The next year the ambassador succeeded in bribing eighteen glass-makers to go to France and make mirrors for Versailles, the palace of the French king. And no sooner had these men got well to work and passed the mystery on to the French than Colbert forbade the French people to import any more mirrors from Venice, as mirrors could now be made at home. Some of these early French mirrors are now in the Cluny Museum in France, my father told me. In consequence of the treachery of these workmen Germany also soon learned how to make mirrors, and the fame of the Venetian artisans declined just as the Council had predicted it would. But it will be long before any other country can equal mine in the making of filigree or spun glass. You will, senorita, see much of this beautiful work while you are here in Venice."
"I want to, Giusippe; and I want to get some to take home. May I, Uncle Bob?"
Mr. Cabot nodded.
"Your story is like a fairy tale, Giusippe," said he.
The boy smiled with pleasure.
"It is a wonderful story to me because it is the story of my people. And, senor, there is much more to tell, but I must not weary you. Some of our filigree glass, it is true, became too elaborate to be beautiful. It is simply interesting because it is wonderful that out of glass could be fashioned ships, flowers, fruits, fish, and decorations of all kinds. It shows most delicate workmanship. But the drinking glasses with their fragile stems are really beautiful; and so are the vases and tazzas from white glass with enamel work or filigree of delicately blended colors. It was the Venetians, too, who invented engraved glass, where a design is scratched or cut into the surface with a diamond or steel point of a file. And our mille-fiori glass, which came to us way back from the Egyptians, is another famous variety. This is made from the ends of fancy colored sticks of glass cut off and arranged in a pattern. You will see it in the shops here."
"I think you Venetians are wonderful!" Jean exclaimed.
"Ah, senorita, you have yet to see one of the finest things we have done," was Giusippe's grave reply. "You have to see the San Marco with its mosaics!"
"Yes, we surely want to go there," put in Mr. Cabot. "Do you think you could be our guide, Giusippe?"
"I could go to-morrow, senor; because of the festa I am free from work. I would like to show you San Marco, of all things, because I love it."
"I am sure no one could do it better," replied Mr. Cabot, well pleased. "To-morrow at nine, then. We will be ready promptly. You shall tell us the rest of your fascinating Venetian history and make Venetians of us."
"I will come, senor."
"You shall be paid for your time, my boy."
"Alas, senor! That would spoil it all. I could not then show it to you. Forgive me and do not think me ungrateful. But my San Marco is to me the place I love. I show it to you because I love it. I have played about it and wandered in and out its doors since I was a very little child. I am proud that you should see it, senor."
"As you will. To-morrow then."
Another moment and Giusippe was gone.
"A remarkable boy! A most remarkable boy!" ejaculated Mr. Cabot. "He knows his country's history as I fancy few others know it. Could you pass as good an examination on yours, Jean?"
Jean hung her head.
"I'm afraid not."
"Nor I," Uncle Bob remarked, patting her curls kindly.
UNCLE BOB ENLARGES HIS PARTY
In accordance with his promise Giusippe came promptly the next morning and the four set out for the San Marco. It was a beautiful June day. The piazza was warm with sunshine, and as groups of tourists loitered through it the pigeons circled greedily about their feet begging food.
"Why, Uncle Bob, these pigeons are exactly like the ones at home—just as pretty and just as hungry," Jean said.
"Should you like to stop a moment and feed them, little girl?"
"Oh, do! It will make Hannah think of Boston," begged Jean. "But we have nothing to give them," she added in dismay.
"I will find you something, senorita," Giusippe declared.
Darting up to an old Italian who was standing near he soon returned with a small paper cornucopia filled with grain.
"The pigeons of St. Mark's are very tame. See!"
He put some kernels of corn on the top of his hat, and holding more in his outstretched hands stood motionless. There was a whirr of wings, and in an instant the boy was quite hidden beneath an eager multitude of fluttering whiteness.
"I never saw so many pigeons," Jean whispered. "You have many more than we do at home."
"We Venetians are very fond of the birds," was Giusippe's reply. "So, too, are the tourists who come to Venice, for they never seem to be tired of having their pictures taken surrounded by flocks of pigeons."
"Doesn't this make you think of Boston Common, Hannah?" asked Uncle Bob.
"Yes, a little. But I should feel more as if I were in Massachusetts if there were not such a babel of foreign tongues about me." Then turning to Giusippe she demanded: "How did you come to speak English, young man?"
"I have been expecting you would ask me that," smiled Giusippe. "You see, I have an uncle who went to America; yes, to Pennsylvania, to seek his fortune. He stayed there five years and in that time he learned to speak English well. When he came back he taught me all he knew. Then he returned with his wife to the United States, and I got books and studied. When they found at Murano that I could speak English they often called on me to show tourists over the glass works. In this way I picked up many words and their pronunciation. Since then I have found that I could sometimes serve as interpreter for English or American travelers if I watched for the chance. I was eager for such opportunities, for it gave me practice, and I often learned new words."
"And why are you so anxious to learn English, Giusippe?" Jean questioned.
"I hope, senorita, to go some day to the United States. My uncle told me what a wonderful country it is, and I desire to see it. Perhaps in that beautiful great land where everything is in abundance I might grow rich. I now have nothing to keep me here; my parents are dead and I have no other kinsmen. I want to join my uncle in Pennsylvania as soon as I have enough money. Part of my passage I have already saved."
"Yes, senorita, I am in earnest. It is lonely here in Venice now that I have no people. And Murano is not what it was in the golden days of my ancestors. I am sure I could find work in your country if I should go there. Do you not think I could, senor?" He turned to Mr. Cabot.
"It is possible," was Uncle Bob's thoughtful answer. "Especially since you speak English so well. What sort of thing would you like to do?"
"I know my trade of glass-making," was Giusippe's modest answer. "I know, too, much of coloring stained glass and of mosaic making. These things I have known from my babyhood up. There must be such work for persons going to the United States. Perhaps my uncle, who is in Pittsburgh with a large glass company, could get me something to do there."
"Pittsburgh!" exclaimed the other three in a breath.
"Yes. My uncle is with the company of a Senor Thomas Curtis, who has been very kind to him."
"Uncle Tom! It's Uncle Tom!" Jean cried, laying her hand impulsively on his arm. "Mr. Curtis is my uncle, Giusippe. Did you ever hear anything so wonderful!"
"It certainly is a strange coincidence," agreed Mr. Cabot. "But why did your uncle come back, Giusippe, after he once got over there?"
"Ah, it was this way. He went first alone, expecting when he had enough money to send it back so that the young girl he loved could follow him, and they could be married. But when at last he had the money saved her parents became sick. They were old people. She could not leave them to die here alone, senor. Therefore she refused to go to America, and so much did my uncle love Anita that he would not stay there without her. Back he came and worked once more at Murano. Then the father and mother died, and my uncle and Anita were married and went to the United States. They wanted to take me, but I pretended that I would rather remain here. This I did because I feared that if I went with them and did not find work I might be a burden. All this was several years ago. My uncle is now a superintendent in one of the Curtis glass factories, and is happy and prosperous. Still, there are children, and I could not let him pay my fare to America. As I said, it will not take me much longer to save the rest of my passage money. Then I shall go and perhaps become rich. Who knows, senor!" Giusippe broke into a ringing laugh.
Mr. Cabot made no reply.
He was thinking.
Fearing that he had offended, Giusippe changed the subject.
"But I weary you with my affairs, senor. Pardon. Shall we go on to St. Mark's?"
It was but a few steps across the piazza, and they were soon inside the church. Then for the first time Mr. Cabot spoke.
"This church, Jean," said he, "is the link between the old art of the Mohammedans and the Gothic art of the Christian era. It was planned as a Byzantine church, and in it one can see many things suggesting St. Sofia's at Constantinople. When St. Mark's at Alexandria was destroyed by the Mohammedans many of its treasures fell into the hands of the Doge of Venice, who promptly proclaimed St. Mark the new patron saint in place of St. Theodore and set about building a cathedral in which to put all the beautiful things he had acquired. Some parts of this ancient cathedral remain, but most of the church was built by Doge Contarini between 1063 and 1071. To the next Doge, Domenico Selvo, fell the task of decorating it. You see, over here the building of churches takes longer than it does at home."
"I should think it did," answered Jean. "Why, we think it is awful if our churches are not all done in two years."
"Ah, we build not that way here, senorita," he said. "Three centuries did our people spend in building into St. Mark's the marble carvings brought from the East; erecting the altars; and adorning the walls. These mosaics alone it took workmen two hundred and fifty years to fashion. Venice was a rich Republic, you see, and could well afford to put into this cathedral the money she might have spent on war. Above the slabs of marble are the mosaics, senorita. So it was in St. Sofia, my father told me; the slabs of marble near the ground and the decoration above. This whole cathedral of ours is covered on all the walls with mosaics—pictures made from bits of glass put together to form scenes from the Bible or from history. Even the most ignorant people who had had no schooling could read such stories, could they not?"
She was dazzled by the beauty of the place—by the soft light; the walls rich in gold and color; by the many wonderful things there were to be seen. She was interested, too, in the smoothly worn, uneven floor which showed where the piles beneath the church had settled.
"Mosaic makers, you know, Jean, began crude attempts at making pictures in glass thousands of years ago, for glass-making was familiar to the Egyptians as well as to the Phoenicans and Syrians. The Greeks and Romans, too, were great glass-makers. So glass-making came down through the ages. The Byzantine churches usually were lighted by a row of tiny glass windows round the base of the dome. Some of this ancient glass still remains in St. Sofia. The common way of making such windows was to cut a design in a slab of marble or plaster, and then insert small pieces of colored glass. Sometimes, too, a pattern for wall decoration was worked out by sticking fragments of glass into soft stucco. So the first mosaic work began. We can see some of it in the museums of England."
"There seems to be a great deal to see in those London museums, Uncle Bob," Jean gasped.
"I am afraid you will be more convinced of that fact than ever when you get there," chuckled Uncle Bob. "But to return to Giusippe's mosaics. You may remember, perhaps, that when the Mohammedans invaded Constantinople and found how important a part the glass-makers played in decorating the churches, they at once handed the artisans over to the caliphs, that they might be set to work adorning their mosques. Now the Mohammedans believed it a crime to make a copy of either man or woman in a picture, a carving, or a statue. It was punishable to pay reverence to sacred figures; therefore all decoration in their churches took the form of flowers, fruit, or conventional designs. So no great mosaic pictures with figures such as these were made. Between the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries Damascus became the center of glass-making, and there are in existence in some of the museums old Arab lamps which hung in the mosques with inscriptions from the Koran engraved upon them. It is Giusippe's St. Mark's which revived the art of mosaic making, and served as the bridge between those Pagan days and the days when with Christianity the arts revived and mosaic makers began to represent in glass figures of Christ and the saints."
"And then the painters came, as Giusippe has said," put in Jean.
"Yes, the great artists were born, and from that time pictures on canvas instead of pictures of glass decorated the churches. But the mosaic makers did an important service to art, for it was they who indirectly gave to the world the idea of making stained-glass windows. And in Venice those who ceased to make mosaics made instead the beautiful Venetian glass of which Giusippe has told us."
"And are there no mosaics made now, Uncle Bob?" asked Jean.
"Yes. When in 1858 it became necessary to restore some of the mosaics in St. Mark's, a descendant of one of the old Murano glass workers named Radi, together with a Dr. Salviati, started a factory on the Grand Canal, where they gradually revived some of the past glory of Venice. They copied the old time glass products, making Arab lamps such as hung in the mosques; cameo work similar to the Naples and Portland vases; and pictures in mosaic. It was they who did The Last Supper for Westminster Abbey, and the mosaics for Albert Memorial Hall in London."
"But Salviati's mosaics were not like those here, senor," put in Giusippe, "because the San Marco mosaics were constructed upon the walls, small cubes of glass being pressed into the moist cement to make the picture. This gave a rough, irregular surface which artists say is far more artistic than is Salviati's smooth, glassy work. When Salviati sent mosaics away he made them here, and then backed them with cement so they could be placed on a slab of solid material and transported great distances from Venice. His pictures, it is true, were far more perfectly done than were the old mosaics—too perfectly, I have heard glass experts say."
"Undoubtedly they are right, Giusippe, for the roughness in the ancient mosaics would, of course, break up the great plain surfaces and make them more interesting. But Salviati did Venice a service, nevertheless, in reviving the art. And there is, too, another virtue about mosaics, and that is that they will endure far longer than paintings. Had it not been for the foresight of Pope Urban, who between 1600 and 1700 had many of the famous pictures of the Vatican copied in mosaic, these masterpieces would have been lost to the world."
"I have been told that the church in Ravenna has some fine mosaics, but I never have seen them," Giusippe ventured.
"I have. They are beautiful, and I hope you may see them some time. Then there are others scattered through the various churches of Sicily and Rome; and there are also many beautiful inlays of mosaic decorating the old churches and palaces of European cities. When we visit Westminster Abbey, Jean, I must show you the crude early mosaic work on the tomb of Edward the Confessor. It is very curious, for it is made of pieces of colored glass set in grooves of marble."
"How much you are to see, senorita," observed Giusippe wistfully.
Mr. Cabot fixed his eyes attentively on the boy.
"Should you, too, like to see all these wonders, Giusippe?" he asked half playfully and half in earnest.
But Giusippe, who did not catch the banter in his tone, answered seriously:
"Should I? Ah, senor, it is not for me to envy or be unhappy about that which I may not have. Some day, perhaps, when I have made my fortune in your country I can return to the old world and see its marvels. I must have a little patience, that is all."
The mingling of sadness and longing in the reply touched Uncle Bob; Jean and the young Venetian chattered on, but Mr. Cabot walked silently ahead, deep in thought.
"Did I understand you to say, Giusippe," he asked at last turning abruptly, "that you have no relatives in Venice?"
"None in all the world with the exception of the uncle in America of whom I told you, senor."
Again there was a pause.
"Suppose I were to take you with us."
"Take you with us now, when we leave Venice."
"I do not understand."
"Suppose I asked you to go with us to France and England, and then across to America."
"But I have not enough money, senor."
"I haven't much, either," Mr. Cabot answered, smiling kindly into the boy's puzzled eyes. "Still, I think I could get together a sufficient sum to pay your way until you got to the United States and found work."
"To go—to go with you now, do you mean, senor?"
"Yes. We leave Venice next week for France. You see, I like you, Giusippe; we all do. And in addition to that you have done us a service. But more than anything else I feel that, once started, you are capable of making your way and doing well in life; all you need is a chance. I have perfect faith that if I took you to America you would make good. It would cost very little more were you to join us, and no doubt you could help in many little ways during the trip. Do you speak French at all?"
"Yes, some; but more German. It is nothing. Many travelers come to Venice, and one must talk to them. Then, too, here it is not unusual to speak several languages, because the countries lie near together, and the people come and go from place to place. With you it is different; a mighty sea divides you from the rest of the world."
"Despite all your excuses for us, Giusippe, it is quite true that we Americans are as a rule pitiably ignorant about languages. Here is this boy, Jean, who knows not only his mother tongue but French, German and English besides. Isn't that a rebuke to us, with our fine schools and our college educations? It makes me ashamed of myself. Do you, little girl, try and do better than I have. Well, young man, what do you say to my proposition? Will you come with us to America?"
"Senor! Oh, senor! How can I ever——"
"Well, then, that settles it," interrupted Mr. Cabot, cutting him short. "I will arrange everything. But there is just one condition to be made, my youthful Venetian patriot. If by chance we see any of those old mirrors made by the early Frenchmen who stole your art from Murano you are not to smash them. Remember!"
GIUSIPPE ENCOUNTERS AN OLD FRIEND
It was scarcely a reality to Jean, to Hannah, or to Giusippe himself when Uncle Bob actually set forth for France with the young Venetian as a member of the party. Yet every one was pleased: Hannah because she would not now need her foreign dictionaries; Jean because it was jolly to have a companion her own age; and Giusippe because he felt that at last he had friends who were to guide for him the future which had loomed so darkly and so vaguely before him. Not a full week of the trip to Paris had passed before Mr. Cabot declared that how he had previously got on without that boy he did not understand. Giusippe had such a wonderful way of making himself useful; not only did he see what needed to be done, but he was quick to do it.
"His enthusiasm alone is worth the money I am paying for his railroad fares and hotel bills!" ejaculated Uncle Bob to Hannah.
There certainly never was such a boy to take in everything around him, and to remember what he saw. With mind alert for all that was to be learned he tagged along at Mr. Cabot's heels drinking in and storing away every scrap of history and of beauty which came across his path. And in Paris he found much of both. The Invalides with the tomb of Napoleon; Notre Dame with its odd gargoyles; the Arc de Triomphe; the Bois; and the Champs-Elysees shaded by pink horse-chestnut trees—all these sights were new and marvelous to the Italian lad. But it was Versailles with its gardens that charmed him and Jean most.
The travelers arrived there on a Sunday, when the fountains were playing, flowers blooming everywhere, and a gay crowd of sightseers thronging the walks. It was like fairy-land. The great Neptune fountain sent into the air a sheet of spray which was quickly caught up by the sunlight and transformed into a misty rainbow. Within the palace, amid old tapestries of battles and hunting scenes, and surrounded by paintings and statues, were the famous early French mirrors of which Giusippe had previously spoken.
Mr. Cabot pointed them out, half playfully, half seriously.
"Perhaps on further consideration I will leave them," returned the boy, falling in with the spirit of the elder man's mood. "They seem to fit the spaces, and I doubt if even our Venetian mirrors could look better here."
"I think it might be just as well," answered Mr. Cabot. "Besides, you must remember that those mirrors were not the only sort of glass the French made. There were many enamel workers at Provence as early as 1520, and later much cast glass instead of that which is blown came from France. In fact, up to a hundred years ago the French held the plate glass monopoly. Then England took up glass-making and cut into the French market—the same old story of stealing the trade, you see. In addition to other varieties of glass-making some of the finest and most interesting of the old stained glass was made by the French people, and can now be seen in the church of St. Denis, just out of Paris, and at Sainte Chapelle which is within the city itself. Fortunately the glass at St. Denis escaped the fury of the French revolutionists, as it might not have done had it not been at a little distance from Paris. There is also glass of much the same sort at Poitiers, Bourges, and Rheims. Amiens, too, has wonderful glass windows. I hope before we leave for home we shall have a peep at some if not all of these."
"Isn't much beautiful French glass now made at Nancy, Mr. Cabot?" Giusippe inquired.
"Yes, some of the finest comes from there."
"But didn't any other people beside the Venetians and the French make glass, Uncle Bob?" asked Jean, much interested.
"Oh, yes. Almost every European nation has tried its hand at glass-making. It is curious, too, to notice how each differs from the others. The Bohemians, for instance, were famous glass-makers, and their work, which primarily imitated that of the Venetians, is known the world over."
"What sort of glass is it? Could I tell it if I should see it?"
"Well, for one thing they make beautiful wine glasses and goblets, having stems of enclosed white and colored enamel tubes twisted together with transparent glass, which look as if they had delicate threads of color running through them. Then the Bohemians and the Austrians make many great beakers or drinking glasses, steins, and bowls with decorative coats of arms upon them in gold or in colored enamel."
"Oh, I have seen things like that," Jean replied.
"Yes, we have some of those ornamental goblets at home in the dining-room. They are very rich and handsome. Beside these varieties the Bohemians have of late revived the making of old white opaque glass with colored enamel figures on it. But engraved glass is one of the kinds for which Bohemia is chiefly celebrated. Even very skilful glass engravers can be had there for little money. They cut fine, delicate designs upon the glass with a lathe. Some of this is white, but much of it is of deep red or blue with the pattern engraved on it in white. Such glass is made in two layers, the outer one being cut away so to leave the design upon the surface underneath."
"Wasn't it the Bohemians who invented cut glass?" Giusippe asked.
"No. Sometimes people say so, but this is not true. The fact is that there chanced to be a glass cutter so skilful that he was appointed lapidary to Rudolph the Second; he had a workshop at Prague, but though he did some very wonderful glass cutting, which gained him much fame, he did not invent the art. It was, by the way, one of his workmen who later migrated to Nuremburg and carried the secret of glass-cutting to Germany."
"Isn't it queer how one country learned of another?" reflected Jean.
"Yes, and it is especially interesting when we see how hard each tried not to teach his neighbor anything. There always was somebody, just as there always is now, who could not keep still and went and told," Mr. Cabot said. "And while we are speaking of the different kinds of glass we must not forget to mention the dark red ruby glass perfected in 1680 by Kunckel, the director of the Potsdam glass works, for it is a very ingenious invention. The deep color is obtained by putting a thin layer of gold between the white glass and the coating of red."
"What else did the Germans make?" queried Giusippe.
"Well, the Germans, like the other nations, turned out glass which was suggestive of their people. And that, by the by, is a fact you must notice when seeing the work of so many different countries. Observe how the art of each reflects the characteristics of those who made it. Italy gave us fragile, dainty glass famous for its airy beauty and delicacy; Germany, on the other hand, fashions a far more massive, rough, and heavier product—large flasks, steins and goblets, some of which are even clumsy; all are substantial and useful, however, and have the big cordial spirit of fellowship so characteristic of the German people. These glasses are decorated in large flat designs less choice, perhaps, than are the Bohemian. The shape of the German goblets and drinking glasses differs, too, from those made in Italy. They are less graceful, less dainty. Instead you will find throughout Germany tall cylindrical shafts, tankards, and steins adorned with massive eagles or colored coats of arms; often, moreover, both the Bohemians and the Germans use pictorial designs showing processions of soldiers, battle scenes, or cavalry charges such as would appeal to nations whose military life has long been one of the leading interests of their people."
"Tell me, Mr. Cabot," inquired Giusippe eagerly, "did you ever see one of the German puzzle cups?"
"Yes, several of them. In the British Museum there are several of the windmill variety."
"What is a puzzle cup, Uncle Bob?" demanded Jean.
"Why, a puzzle or wager cup, as they are sometimes called, was an ingenious invention of the Germans during their early days of glass-making. The kind I speak of is a large inverted goblet which has on top a small silver windmill. The wager was to set the fans revolving, turn the glass right side up, and then fill and drain it before the mill stopped turning. Such wagers were very popular in those olden days and are interesting as relics of a mediaeval and far-away period in history."
So intently had Mr. Cabot and the others been talking that they had stopped in the center of the room and it was while they were standing there that a party of tourists entered from the hallway. Foremost among them was an American girl who carried in her hand a much worn Baedeker. As her eye swept over the tapestries covering the walls her glance fell upon Giusippe.
Instantly she started and with parted lips stepped forward; then she paused.
"It cannot be!" Mr. Cabot heard her murmur.
At the same moment, however, Giusippe had seen her.
"The beautiful senorita!" he cried. "My lady of Venice!"
He was beside her in an instant.
"Giusippe! Giusippe!" exclaimed the girl. "Can it really be you?"
"Yes, yes, senorita! It is I. Ah, that I should see you again! What a joy it is. Surely four or five years must have passed since first you came to paint in Venice."
"Fully that, my little Giusippe. It is five years this June. You have a good memory."
"How could I forget you, senorita; and the pictures, and your kindness! But I have left Venice, you see. Yes. Even now I am on my way to America."
"To America? Oh, Giusippe, Giusippe! And that is why you have discarded your faded blouse, and the red tie which you wore knotted round your throat. Alas! I am almost sorry. And yet you look very nice," she added kindly. "But to leave Venice!"
"It is best," Giusippe explained gently. "I have my way to make, and I can do it better in your country, my senorita."
"Perhaps. Still, I am sorry to have you leave your home. It is like taking sea shells away from the sands of the shore."
"And yet you would want me to be a man and succeed in life. Think how you yourself worked for success."
"I know. And it was you who brought it to me, Giusippe. The portrait I painted of you was exhibited in America and when I later sold it to an art dealer there it brought me a little fortune; but the fame it brought was best of all." The girl put her hand softly on the lad's shoulder.
"Oh, senorita, how glad I am!"
"I had a feeling that you would bring me luck the morning when I first saw you in the square near St. Mark's. Do you remember? And how you stood watching me paint? Do you recall how we got to talking and how I asked if I might do the portrait of you? You laughed when I suggested it! And then you came to the hotel evenings when you were free, and I sketched in the picture. It seems but yesterday. In the meantime you entertained me by telling me of Venice and its history. What a little fellow you were to know so much!" The girl smiled down at him. "And now let me hear of yourself. What of your parents?"
"Alas, senorita, they have died. I am now quite alone in the world. It is for that that I felt I must leave Venice. It is sad to be alone, senorita."
"So it is, Giusippe. No one knows that better than I." Impulsively she slipped a hand into the small Venetian's. "But I must not take you from your friends. See, we have kept them waiting a long time."
"I want you to meet them, senorita. They are from your country, and they have been kind to me."
"Then surely I must meet them."
With a shy gesture the boy led her forward.
"Miss Cartright is from New York, Mr. Cabot," said Giusippe simply. "Long ago when I was a little lad I knew her in Venice, and she was good to me and to my parents."
"It was five years ago," added Miss Cartright. "I went there to paint."
"And little Giusippe, perhaps, made your stay as delightful as he has made ours," Mr. Cabot said.
"Yes. I was all by myself, and knew no one in Venice. Furthermore, I spoke only a word or two of Italian. Giusippe was a great comfort. He kept me from being lonesome."
"And you are now staying in Paris?" questioned Mr. Cabot.
"Yes, I have been here with friends studying for nearly a year; but I am soon to return home. And now, before I leave you, I want to hear all about Giusippe's plans. What is he to do?"
Little by little the story was told. Mr. Cabot began it and continued it until Giusippe, who thought him too modest, finished the tale.
"You see, senorita, Mr. Cabot, Miss Jean, and good Hannah will not themselves tell you how kind they have been, so I myself must tell it," said the boy. "And now I go with them to find a position in America that by hard work I may some time be able to repay them for their goodness to me."
Miss Cartright nodded thoughtfully.
At last she said:
"If you should come to New York I want to see you, Giusippe. There might be something I could do to help you. Anyway, I should want to have a glimpse of you. And if you do not come and Mr. Cabot does, perhaps, since he knows how fond of you I am and how much I am interested in your welfare, he will come and tell me how you are getting on."
She drew from her purse a card which she handed to the lad.
"Perhaps I'd better take it, Giusippe," Mr. Cabot said in a low tone. "It might get lost."
Then there was a confusion of farewells, and the girl rejoined her friends, who had gone through into the next room.
It was not until she was well out of ear-shot that any one spoke. Then Jean, who had been silent throughout the entire interview, exclaimed:
"Oh, isn't she beautiful! Isn't she the very loveliest lady you ever saw, Giusippe?"
And Giusippe, answering in voluble English mixed with Italian, extolled not only the fairness but the goodness of his goddess.